October 10, 2007 | By: Carol Lea Spence

Young people face many challenges these days, not the least of which is weight management. A statewide conference, Growing Healthy Kids in Kentucky, is scheduled for November 8 and 9 to examine ways to help them succeed in that arena.

According to Janet Tietyen, a University of Kentucky Family and Consumer Sciences Cooperative Extension specialist, the picture for today’s youth is dismal. Currently 15 percent of children are overweight, a figure that has tripled in the past 25 years. Most of them will struggle with obesity as adults. One third of today’s youth will be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at some stage in their lives.

“We must make it easier for people to manage their weight by making changes in the world we live in, to create an environment where it is easy, and the norm is to be active and eat well,” Tietyen said. 

That is the focus of this year’s conference. Titled “The Spectrum of Prevention: Policies for People,” it will be a working conference. Tietyen said participants would use the state plan as a jumping off point to develop regional plans aimed at environmental and policy changes in communities, schools and worksites. They will also identify and begin work on funding applications and other resources to support communities in their efforts to reduce the risk of obesity in Kentucky. 

Guest speakers will include Richard Wilson from the University of Louisville Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, who will give examples of policy changes that promote health in communities, and Shellie Pfohl, vice president of Be Active North Carolina, who will share how they promoted physical activity in North Carolina using programs, people and policies.

The conference is sponsored by UK, Family and Consumer Sciences Cooperative Extension, Partnership for a Fit Kentucky and the Kentucky Dietetic Association. Organizers encourage participation by educators, policymakers, parents and concerned citizens. Typically, the conference is attended by family and consumer sciences extension agents, public health nutritionists, school food service directors, registered dietitians and nurses. This year, conference planners have invited representatives from county judge/executive offices, as well.

“We want people from every county in the commonwealth to come and participate in making Kentucky a healthier place to live,” Tietyen said.

Registration materials for the Growing Healthy Kids in Kentucky conference, to be held at Holiday Inn North in Lexington, can be obtained by visiting the Web site 
http://www.ca.uky.edu/hes/index.php?p=301. The registration deadline is October 26.


Janet Tietyen, 859-257-1812