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Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Presents at the U.S.-Mexico Border Obesity Summit

On July 17, Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, gave a keynote address at the first U.S.-Mexico Border Obesity Summit, held in McAllen, Texas.  Sponsored by the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission, the Summit convened more than 200 federal, state, and local partners from both countries to share data, identify effective prevention strategies, and to promote partnerships.  Mexico and the United States have the world’s first and second highest rates of obesity, respectively, according to a June 2013 report of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.  The common border region is especially hard hit by the obesity epidemic.

In her keynote address, Ms. Pfohl noted that obesity is a symptom of physical inactivity and poor diet, as well as environmental and socio-cultural factors, and that we must address those roots of the problem to achieve results.  Ms. Pfohl described the role of the President’s Council and discussed ways that the organization achieves its mission to educate, engage and empower all Americans to lead a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition.  She also highlighted other key federal efforts to address obesity in the United States, including First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, and HHS’ We Can! initiative focused on helping children achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Mexico’s keynote speaker, Dr. Simón Barquera of the Mexican National Institute of Public Health, noted that the two countries can learn from each other by sharing information about successful national programs and other best practices. Dr. Peter Briss, Medical Director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, also spoke at the Summit, focusing on the burden of overweight and obesity in the United States.

As a next step, a technical work group, which will include HHS representatives, will begin developing a border obesity prevention strategy that will be linked to the HHS National Prevention Strategy and Mexico’s obesity prevention strategies.