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Mississippi is the host state for the 9th annual Southern Obesity Summit, November 15-17 in Jackson

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By Rosemary Eng

More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese, and African Americans are right at the top of the leader board in obesity rates.

The Southern Obesity Summit tackles the problem head-on. Their ninth annual conference takes place November 15-17 in Jackson, Mississippi.

The Summit is the largest regional obesity-prevention event in the United States, focusing on 16 obesity-heavy states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

Dr. Maya Rockymore
Dr. Maya Rockeymoore is the the keynote speaker

Summit keynote speaker Dr. Maya Rockeymoore is optimistic about the fight against obesity. “Change is happening,” she said in a telephone interview.

Rockeymoore is president and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, a social change strategy firm in Washington, D.C.  Her group, “which makes policy work for people and their environments,” has assisted policy makers on issues like childhood obesity, healthier environments for people to walk, bicycle, and be active, and the push for supermarkets to open in areas badly served for fresh food.

While conquering obesity is a slow and difficult battle, 12 locations in the country are reporting stopping and reversing their childhood obesity rates, she said.

She calls attendees of the Obesity Summit “activists on the ground….it’s with activism of everyone that progress is made.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers extensive reports on obesity: ,

According to the CDC, the more body fat that you have and the more you weigh, the more likely you are to develop:

  •       coronary heart disease
  •       high blood pressure
  •       Type 2 diabetes
  •       Gallstones
  •       Breathing problems
  •       Certain cancers


Here are some of the topics being covered at the Obesity Summit, which changes locations every year to a different member state:

  •      Issues and disparities among racial and ethnic populations relating to obesity and health care;
  •      Parade of States, describing the obesity initiatives and policies being implemented across our 16 member states;
  •      Demystifying Advocacy — a presentation by Laurel O’Sullivan, J.D., principal and founder, The Advocacy Collaborative, LLC, helping non-profits increase their impact and overcome barriers to engaging in effective advocacy
  •      Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, former vice president of research and programs at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, speaking on Creating a Culture of Health

Michelle Smith, director of the Southern Obesity Summit, says early bird registration is open until November 5. Visit online at  to register and at to see the event summary.


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