Apr 072005
Authors: Cari Merrill

Obesity has become an increasingly pertinent issue in American society.

Each year more than 300,000 deaths are attributed to sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits, according to www.obesityhelp.com.

Statistics from this Web site show a steady growth of obesity across all age groups in the United States over the past decade.

Dr. James Hill, a world-renowned obesity expert, will address obesity as a public health issue in his lecture "How did America get fat and how do we change it now" today at 7p.m. at the Fort Collins Marriott.

Hill was invited by CSU's Department of Health and Exercise Science to speak at a conference being held Saturday dissecting the issue of obesity, said Dr. Gay Israel, chair of the committee planning the conference and head of the department. Tonight's lecture is an introduction to the conference.

Israel and the committee set up the conference with obesity as their topic of choice because of its prevalence in America.

"It's an epidemic nationally and people are concerned what to do about it," Israel said.

While there are many things that contribute to a healthy lifestyle, Rachael Erin Johnson, senior biochemistry and microbiology double major, said healthier food choices would help deal with the issue of obesity.

"It (obesity) is something we can't address until we have a large number of people who want companies to be accountable for the way they prepare their food and demanding healthier options, especially for life in the fast lane of a college student," Johnson said.

Hill is coauthor of the book "The Step Diet Book" and professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. The lecture will take a different approach to obesity than the book, Hill said.

"The talk will be about preventing weight gain and the book is the next step in losing weight," Hill said.

A question-and-answer session and a book signing at the CSU Bookstore will follow Hill's lecture.

Hill has been asked to speak to universities, communities, companies, insurers and at government events.

"I'm really excited about doing this obesity lecture," Hill said. "I just did one in Fort Wayne, Ind., that had a thousand people. It's fun."

Tonight's lecture is free and open to the public, but Israel recommends showing up early to get a seat. He expects the 250 professionals who are signed up for Saturday's conference and more to attend this lecture.

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