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Educating the national media about weight gain

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Author Erika Matich | Publish Date May 6, 2013

James O. Hill, PhD, Anschutz Health and Wellness Center Executive Director

Photo: James O. Hill, PhD, executive director of AHWC

AURORA , Colo. - They may have come to the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC) hoping for answers but journalists from across North America, including Canada and Mexico, may have headed home with plenty of questions.  The journalists were at AHWC to take part in the National Press Foundation’s (NPF) Obesity Issues Program for three days.

Sixteen journalists, who write about complex health issues, were chosen to participate in the program, including Katie McCrimmon from University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affair’s Health Policy Solutions publication. Journalists must apply and attendees are selected from a pool of applicants covering all types of media.

James O. Hill, PhD, executive director of AHWC located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, presented participants with a list of 82 factors that could contribute to weight gain and obesity – including air pollution, overeating and stress. There is not one solution to the obesity problem leading journalists to ask questions about encouraging kids to be more active, encouraging parents to set a good example and teaching people to make better nutrition choices.

“The obesity epidemic has developed over several decades and will need to be addressed over time,“ says Hill. “We especially need to focus on helping our children make healthier lifestyle choices to avoid weight gain and obesity. ”

The Obesity Issues Program will be presented at AHWC again in 2014. The National Press Foundation works with universities to educate journalists. Bob Meyers, NPF president, says Hill and the faculty at AHWC help journalists become better informed about obesity issues.

“This program challenges thinking and assumptions about obesity. It also provides journalists with direct access to resources and puts them in a room with journalists they may not know,“  Meyers says. “The interaction with colleagues is often an enormous, unexpected benefit. “

Hill was joined by John Peters, PhD, Holly Wyatt, MD, Dan Bessesen, MD, Kim Gorman, MS, RD, and Robert Eckel, MD, in presenting information about obesity to journalists. The presentations are posted on the NPF’s website.

The NPF and AHWC sponsored the program with AHWC developing the curriculum. The program also relies on unrestricted education grants including one from the Colorado Health Foundation. This was the second year of the program, which enjoyed success in its inaugural year, 2012.