"Be Our Voice" obesity summit - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

"Be Our Voice" obesity summit

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By Ashley Conroy

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - In an effort to tackle the state's high obesity rate in children, health care professionals participated in a health care summit called "Be Our Voice" at the Jackson Medical Mall on Friday.

It was part of a $15,000 grant through the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

For doctors, nurses, and others who attended the summit, it was like a day back in the classroom as they listened, took notes, and participated in school-like discussions.

One of the attendees and speakers at the summit, Michelle Ellison is a school nurse at Madison Station Elementary.

Ellison hopes to spread the message to parents that a simple exercise routine with their children can make a difference.

"Teach them nutrition, teach them fun ways to do exercise. Get out of the house and play kickball, make obstacles courses for yourself."

Dr. Ruth Patterson attended the summit today to learn more on how to advocate to reduce the state's high obesity rate in children.

Dr. Patterson says she sees obese children walk through her doors everyday, and says it starts with the parents.

"I'll see grandmother, I'll see mother, and I'll see the child and they're all overweight."

Reports show that Mississippi has the highest rate of obese and overweight children in nation at 44.4 percent. Arkansas has the second highest rate at 37.5 percent, and then Georgia at 37.3 percent.

Pediatrician Dr. Tami Brooks says part of combating the obesity epidemic will start with Mississippians changing their view on what is considered overweight for children.

"The average child now is seen to be, what we think is average is actually probably overweight."

The overall goal of the program is to get every health care professional that attended the summit to link up with a local elementary school in Hinds, Rankin, and Madison counties.

In the future, they hope to make the "Be Our Voice" campaign a state-wide initiative and get health care professionals to work with schools all over the state.

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