UK researchers host event: Conference examines obesity in Appalachia

By Melody Bailiff

UK researchers will be co-sponsoring a one-day conference focusing on obesity in Appalachia April 21 at the Lexington Convention Center.

The conference is open to all researchers, faculty and students interested in the health of the communities of Appalachia.

The Appalachian Health Summit is part of a recent initiative to build an Appalachian regional research network.

The University of Kentucky, along with co-sponsors Ohio State University, Marshall University, University of Cincinnati and the Appalachian Regional Commission, uses these summits as a way to increase the speed of new therapies from academic centers to community practices.

In the sixth annual spring conference, researchers chose obesity as the main focus.

“Obesity is the underlying factor in numerous diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer,” Dr. Jane Harrison, assistant provost and administrative director at the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, said. “We are looking at all the different pieces related to obesity and disease. We have sessions focused on research networks, how physicians network and how communities network in the process of improving health.”

Dr. William H. Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, will deliver the keynote address at the conference.

The conference will also feature different talks and presentations, on topics like social networking for energy balance, obesity and cancer, childhood obesity and research networks and collaborative.

Energy balance is the current terminology for burning calories.

The health summit will discuss how to maintain energy balance through social networking of person to person and the use of the internet.

The website,, is based in Cincinnati and will be discussed as a way of energy balance social networking.

“The Appalachian region ranks among the highest in the country for a host of chronic and life-limiting diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes,” Dr. Baretta Casey, professor of public health and summit chair, said. “Obesity is a common risk factor for these health problems, and it too is prevalent in the region. By focusing on obesity, we hope to forge effective, collaborative interventions that can help to improve the overall health of Appalachia.”

The goal of the summit is to enhance collaboration between researchers in the region and enhance interaction between community groups and UK researchers.

By discussing chronic health issues prevelent in Appalachia, researchers hope ways to prevent these diseases are implemented into the community faster to improve health in Appalachia.

To attend the conference, students and faculty must register by April 8 at