DHPE Presents at 2015 Southern Obesity Summit
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
The 9th Annual Southern Obesity Summit (SOS) was held in Jackson, Mississippi on November 15-17, 2015. It was the first time that this forum was held in the state of Mississippi. It was presented by the Texas Health Institute and the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. SOS is the largest regional obesity prevention event in the United States, which focuses their efforts on 16 Southern States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. The overarching goals of the summit are to: (1) Help stakeholders strategize next steps to implement policy and program initiatives across all 16 states, and (2) Effectively engage youth in strategies to prevent obesity.
The Directors of Health Promotion and Education (DHPE) staff – Policy, Systems and Environment Change (PSE) Director Doreleena Sammons Hackett, SM and Communications Manager Thometta Cozart, MS, MPH – attended the Summit to promote DHPE’s PSE change efforts, such as the CDC-funded Partnering4Health initiative and the Lupus Health Education program. Doreleena was one of the featured speakers during the Nutrition Track. Her presentation entitled “Combating Obesity: From Service Approaches to Systems Approaches” highlighted DHPE’s Systems Change for Health (SCH) trainings and demonstrated how state health agencies have addressed obesity and chronic disease disparities after completing the SCH courses.
Nearly 400 individuals attended the two-and-a-half day Summit, which received media coverage by the local news station. SOS was formally opened by a town hall meeting on issues and disparities among racial and ethnic populations relating to obesity and healthcare systems. The diverse and knowledgeable panel consisted of Facilitator Corey Wiggins, Director of Mississippi Economic Policy Center; Rosalie Aguilar of Salud America; Rev. Dr. Michael Minor, Project Director of a Navigator Grant Initiative; and Tamela Cannady of Choctaw Nation Health Authority.
There were ample opportunities to network in between the plenary sessions and the “fast-paced” breakout sessions. The Summit provided opportunities for practitioners to share successful policy and community-based intervention strategies. The opening Plenary Session: Demystifying Advocacy was funded by RWJF and the speaker was Laurel O'Sullivan, J.D. Principal & Founder of The Advocacy Collaborative, LLC. Round tables were held for different policy topics and there was a session entitled: Obesity as a National Security Issue presented by Brigadier General Robert Crear, US Army Retired. Pillar Workgroups were held on the topics of: Early Childhood; Food Access/System; Healthcare and Health System; School; Healthy Vending Policy; Physical Activity; and Worksites. Additionally, there were State Team Meetings and poster sessions.
SOS concluded with the Creating a Culture of Health plenary on featuring keynote speaker Dr. Maya Rockeymoore and a final closing session on Effective Partnerships Between Funders and Grantees, which explored the current landscape of national policies & initiatives aligned with the SOS seven pillars as well as emerging funder approaches to supporting obesity prevention in the South. Closing session presenters included Carrie Dooyema, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity of the Centers for Disease Control; Jasmine Hall Ratliff of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Catherine Oliveros of BlueCross BlueShield of Texas; and one of DHPE’s Partnering4Health national organizational partners, Jill Birnbaum of the American Heart Association. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of SOS, the 2016 Summit will occur in Texas.