The cost of obesity - - Jackson, MS

The cost of obesity

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By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -- The University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Jackson Chamber of Commerce came together at the Jackson Convention Complex Wednesday to host the first ever "Global Obesity Summit."

Medical researchers and health care professionals from all over the nation presented to a crowd of several hundred people the dangers and the high cost of obesity.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates it costs the nation around $160 billion a year for obesity related illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at UMMC, Dr. John Hall said the purpose of this event is to orchestrate not only the "science" behind obesity, but the socio-economic effect.

"We need to engage not only the business community, but the government, state and local government... Also, federal government," Dr. Hall said. "Also the school systems throughout the state."

In addition, Hall said it costs the state $900 million dollars annually for obesity related illness.

"We're number one in cardiovascular disease. We're number one in diabetes, we have the highest rates of kidney disease and we have the highest rates of certain forms of cancer."

As part of the conference several dozen posters were lined outside of the presentation area. Each one represented a different research study that was conducted on behalf of the science behind obesity.

Professor and Researcher from the University of Alberta, Dr. Arya Sharma studies the etiological approach to obesity.

Sharma said when someone becomes obese, reversing the effects isn't as simple as eating less and exercising more.

"You can see patients who are eating because they're depressed, you can see some eating because they don't have enough time to prepare foods," Dr. Sharma said. "You see people eating the wrong foods just because they don't have the education of what healthy diets are."

Sharma also said from experience of helping obese patients, he believes it will take one success at a time to stop the epidemic.

"We try to look at the causes the reasons behind the weight gain and those are the kinds of things we need to change and try to address."

The Global Obesity Summit is also taking place at the convention center all day on Thursday. Former U.S. Senator Trent Lott and Congressman Bennie Thompson are a few of the guests presenting. 

The Jackson Chamber of Commerce said admission is free and it's open to the public.

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