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Health summit targets lifelong issue

Childhood obesity, effects on work force subject of event

POSTED: October 13, 2012 12:33 a.m.
Autumn Vetter/

Culleen Filosi, left, weighs patient Ben Ewers during an appointment Tuesday at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Forsyth.

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The public is invited to learn more about the impact of obesity on the work force during the 2012 Healthcare Summit.

Presented by the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the summit is set for 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.

Jason Mock, director of the chamber’s Small Business Services Center, said the event is “open to anybody,” but small business owners in particular likely would benefit from attending.

“It’s going to focus on businesses and the costs that businesses are having to incur in their health care benefits for employees and the fact that if you have healthier employees, you will have lower costs in your [medical insurance] plans,” he said.

But since obesity is often a lifelong problem, he said, the summit will also address childhood obesity.

“We’re going to focus on both childhood and adult obesity because we understand that it starts at a young age,” he said.

Speakers will include Valerie Bowers, director of the Forsyth County school system’s food and nutrition program, and Stephanie Walsh, medical director of child wellness at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Mock said Bowers will discuss recent changes in the nutrition program.

“We’ll have [Bowers] in there talking about what’s going on in our school system and how they’ve changed their philosophies about what they’re feeding the students on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

Walsh, a physician, said she will address costs of obesity for both children and adults.

“I don’t think folks realize that even in childhood there’s an extra medical cost from kids who carry extra weight,” she said.

“I don’t know if we can find numbers specific for Forsyth County, but we’ll definitely be looking at the cost of obesity for our state … I’m also trying to look at what does this mean for the work force.

“If we have such a high health risk in kids and this is our work force coming up, what does that mean?”

Mock said the event’s third speaker, Edwin Foulke Jr., an attorney with Fisher & Phillips LLP, will address specific ideas for businesses to lower health care costs.

“[He] will come in and really touch on the business aspect from the point of view that you spend X amount on your employees’ health care a month, and if you have healthier employees, with your insurance costs you can see effective change,” Mock said.

“He’s going to be talking about the numbers really from a business point of view of the bottom line and of really saving money.”

Mock said this will be the first health summit to be held in the county for about three years so he’s hoping for a good turnout.

“If you’re looking to have a healthy impact on your business and your community, this is a great start for going forward for the rest of this year and into 2013,” he said.

Walsh said she’s happy to get to speak at the event to educate more people about the problems of not maintaining a healthy weight.

“I really do think this is a medical crisis for our state and for our country,” she said. “We’re looking at really significant health impacts and quality of life issues for our children.

“If these are the people who are going to be taking over the world from us, we better make sure they’re as healthy as they can be.”

 

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