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Forsyth Health Summit to Focus on Obesity

While Forsyth was named the second healthiest county in Georgia, there is still concern over the obesity issue.

Obesity appears to be a concern and on the minds of many in Forsyth County and because of that concern a health summit was created to look at the issue more closely.

On Wednesday, the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce will host the 2012 Healthcare Summit entitled "The Bottom Line - Weight at Work.

Obesity was chosen as the topic following the release of a report on the 2012 County Health Rankings earlier this year.

While Forsyth was named the second healthiest county in Georgia, there was still concern based on the feedback the chamber received from its members who participated in a survey.

"We heard back from the community that obesity was a concern for them," said Jason Mock, director of small business services for the chamber. "We see in this study that is done nationally that obesity is something that we need to focus on."

But Mock said they wanted to be specific about the health issue and narrow it down to how obesity affects businesses, the impact on a company's bottom line.

According to the chamber, across the country every year obesity cost employers billions of dollars in medical coverage. Obesity and weight problems have a significant effect on productivity and economic competitiveness. How well businesses are able to manage such issues will determine how productive, competitive and hence successful they are.

There will be three leading experts on the panel at the health summit discussing what can be done to stop the number two cause of preventable death in the United States.

They include, Dr. Stephanie Walsh, Medical Director of Child Wellness at
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

"Dr. Walsh is their leading physician on childhood obesity and works in the realm on a daily basis," said Mock.

Valerie Bowers, Director of Food and Nutrition Services with Forsyth County Schools is another panelist.

"The county school system is feeding thousands of students on a daily basis and obesity starts at a young age, it starts when they are in school," Mock said. "So we wanted to make sure that we could touch on that and the changes they have made over the last few years to provide a healthier food choice for the students."

The third speaker will be Edwin Foulke Jr. of Fisher & Phillips LLP with law offices in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Foulke was the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and named by President George W. Bush to head OSHA, serving from April 2006 to November 2008.

Mock said despite being named a healthy community, becoming healthier is the ultimate goal and he hopes the summit will lead Forsyth down that road.

"We really want to bring awareness to our community that a healthy life style is a good life style," he said.

"We really want businesses to start thinking outside of the box, to start looking at different ways that they can motivate their employees to be a healthier workforce. Because in turn when you have a healthier workforce you have a better workplace."

The health summit will be held Wednesday, Oct. 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Forsyth Conference Center located at 3410 Ronald Reagan Boulevard in Cumming. The cost is $30 for members and $35 for non-members. For registration information, go online.

Editor's Note: Read more about the panelists by downloading their bios to the right of this article.



Question of the Week: What Can We Do to Reduce Georgia's Rising Obesity Rate?

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