AAFCS to Address Obesity Epidemic at June 23-26 Conference in Minneapolis

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More than 1,100 family and consumer sciences professionals (FCS), public health professionals, dieticians, psychologists, sociologists, and other professionals will come together to discuss the obesity crisis at the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) 96th Annual Conference & Expo, June 23 – June 26, 2005, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, MN. The conference will feature keynote addresses, workshops, and educational sessions on obesity-related topics, as well as an exciting Expo with more than 50 exhibitors.

Why is obesity increasing at epidemic proportions in the U.S.? How can professionals from different disciplines work together to fight this epidemic and prevent more Americans from becoming overweight or obese? What are the safest and most effective ways for those who are overweight or obese to reach a healthy weight? More than 1,100 family and consumer sciences professionals (FCS), public health professionals, dieticians, psychologists, sociologists, and others will address these questions at the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) 96th Annual Conference & Expo, Sizing Up America: Obesity Causes, Effects, and Solutions, June 23 – June 26, 2005, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, MN.

Several compelling and informative keynote speakers have been invited to present the latest obesity-related research, provide possible solutions to the obesity epidemic, and show how the increase in obesity among Americans has had an impact on areas such as children’s health, older Americans, city planning, and apparel sizing. During the opening general session, Zonya Foco, RD, CSP, author, speaker, and TV personality on “Zonya’s Health Bites,” will demonstrate how making a small change can have major long-term health benefits during her presentation entitled, “Empowering American Families with the Power of One Good Habit.”

On Summit Day, Friday, June 24, Dr. Sarah Lee, health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, will present, “Healthy Eating-Healthy Weights-Healthy Futures: Doing Our Part for the Adults of Tomorrow,” and focus more on how to prevent overweight and obesity among children. Following Lee’s presentation, there will be six concurrent obesity-related workshops, a presentation from the USDA on MyPyramid, the new food guidance system, and a diet panel discussion moderated by Dr. Carolyn Bednar, CFCS, professor and chair, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Texas Woman’s University. Dr. Michael Zemel’s closing address will emphasize the new research on calcium’s role in controlling fat cell metabolism in both children and adults. Then Dr. Mary McKenna, health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, will wrap up Summit Day with conference participants.

On Saturday, June 25, conference participants may choose from a variety of cutting-edge workshops and educational sessions on many obesity-related topics. For example, participants can learn how to enable individuals to take control of eating habits, design spaces to improve health and well-being, and use peer education to promote healthy choices in adolescents.

Improving the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities has always been a top priority for AAFCS and its members. Many AAFCS members are LifeSkills secondary school educators who teach about nutrition and making healthy lifestyle choices, while other members are dieticians or professors of nutrition. FCS professionals are needed now more than ever to help fight the current obesity epidemic.

During the conference, AAFCS will recognize the contributions of outstanding FCS professionals and other organizations or individuals who have improved the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Ann Anderson will receive the AAFCS 2005 National Teacher of the Year award for her hands-on LifeSkills program, “Hotel and Restaurant Management I and II,” which provides eleventh and twelfth graders with a one- to two-year internship in the hospitality industry at the Hyatt Regency Dallas. The Honorable Tony Knowles, former governor of Alaska, will be recognized as the AAFCS 2005 Friend of the Family for his efforts to expand access to quality and affordable health care and nutrition, health, and education programs to thousands of Alaskans. For their dedication to developing healthier food products and providing nutritional information to consumers, Generals Mills will be honored with the AAFCS 2005 21st Century Community Champion award.

“AAFCS is taking the lead in bringing people together from a broad spectrum of professions to network and share information about the obesity crisis in the U.S. A multidisciplinary approach may bring about new solutions or approaches to fighting this epidemic,” noted Karen S. Tucker Thomas, CAE, executive director of AAFCS.”

The conference features an exciting Expo with more than 50 exhibitors and special events. As a special note, five of AAFCS’ loyal exhibitors have exhibited for more than 60 years, and twenty-two of AAFCS’ exhibitors have been participating in the Expo for more than 15 years. There will also be many newcomers, including the USDA Food Safety Mobile, an educational program of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. The USDA Food Safety Mobile staff will demonstrate safe food handling techniques and play food safety games with the attendees. During lunch in the Expo, participants can “let their hair down” and rock to the 60s with Beehive, who performs hits from female soloists and “girl groups,” including the Supremes, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin. Beehive is sponsored by Learning Zone Express, a Minneapolis-based company that develops, collects, and sells FCS teaching materials.

About AAFCS

Founded in 1909, AAFCS is the only not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to bringing people together to improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities. AAFCS’ 9,000 members are elementary, secondary, and post-secondary educators, researchers, and administrators; cooperative extension educators; and other professionals in business and industry, not-for-profit organizations, and government. These professionals develop, integrate, and provide practical knowledge about LifeSkills—dietetics and nutrition; financial literacy; child care and parenting; conflict resolution; consumer education; housing and environment; and apparel and textiles.

Editors Note: Speakers and awardees are available for interviews by telephone before or in person during the conference. Please contact Gwynn Mason at 703-706-4600 or gmason@aafcs.org.

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Gwynn Mason
AAFCS
703-706-4600
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