Health-care summit to focus on obesity

Health-care professionals and other local leaders plan to hold a summit next week to address regional health-care issues, particularly obesity.

Obesity is a major health problem, especially in the South. It contributes to many diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

“We want to have a broad cross-section of government leaders, business leaders, education and community health advocates to focus on obesity and the chronic diseases that flow from obesity,” said Gred Dent, president and CEO of Community Health Works, the nonprofit organizing the summit.

Community leaders from seven counties (Bibb, Crawford, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and Twiggs) will gather Wednesday for a daylong session at Macon State College. The event is open to the public, but organizers ask attendees to register online at www.chwg.org/cgrhs/index.html. Dent said they’re already expecting more than 100 attendees, mostly government, business and health-care officials.

Alice Yoder, director of community health at a Pennsylvania hospital included in U.S. News & World Report’s top 50 hospitals list for six of the past seven years, will be the keynote speaker. This is meant to be one of the first of several meetings and events to be held over the next three years, according to Community Health Works.

“What we need to do is put policies in place to encourage exercise, to encourage good eating,” Dent said.