Physicians Meet NY State and Community Leaders on New Guidelines for Schools, Health Insurance Exchange and Medicaid to Reduce Early Childhood Obesity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), the National Hispanic Health Foundation (NHHF), and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, Chairman, Mental Health Committee, are convening New York leaders to develop critically needed strategies that can improve programs to reduce obesity of young Hispanic children, the next generation of Americans.  The nation's schools, child care, and public health agencies have been developing programs to educate and help change behaviors to reduce obesity since the mid- 2000's when obesity tripled in the US. In 2012, the "Weight of the Nation" Report from the Institute of Medicine urged all stakeholders to build more comprehensive programs that target our most vulnerable communities.

"Physicians are among the first to see overweight or eating disorders of children at well baby visits," said Dr. Elena Rios, president and CEO, National Hispanic Medical Association, "and with healthcare reform, Hispanic physicians will be educating more families on what to do about it. We look forward to helping our policymakers and leaders build health programs that are culturally competent to meet this demand."

Many Americans are now more aware of the need for exercise and eating more healthy, but most are unaware of new Federal and State policies targeting child obesity – for school meals, guidelines are now based "My Plate," and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has created new State health insurance exchanges and Medicaid programs so more Americans have affordable health insurance and that will include obesity counseling.  The First Lady's Lets Move! has galvanized our communities to be more actively engaged in healthier lifestyles.

To address these issues, the NHMA and its foundation are inviting 100 key government, corporate, media, schools and community leaders to meet at the first "Early Childhood Obesity Hispanic Leadership Summit"  at the New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm on February 8th.  Speakers include Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, Chairman, Mental Health Committee, Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford, president, NY Academy of Medicine, Dr. Elena Rios, president, NHMA/NHHF; Cathy Nonas, sr. advisor, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Margaret Martinez Malito, exec director, Nassau County Youth Board; Janice Molnar, Deputy Commissioner, Division of Child Care Services; Yvonne Graham, associate commissioner, NYS Department of Health; Michelle S. Davis, region II administrator and Michael Melendez, associate administrator, Division of Medicaid and Children's Health Operations from US Department of Health and Human Services.

The purpose of the summit is to discuss the barriers of current programs and strategies for future programs in education and in healthcare that impact the health of Hispanics in early childhood; and build consensus on the Federal/State programs and policies that can be enhanced to decrease Hispanic early childhood obesity. The second Summit will be in California next month. NHMA will announce the policy and program recommendations at the NHMA Annual Conference, April 25-28, 2013 in Washington, DC.  The Summit is being funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Established in 1994 in Washington, DC, the NHMA and NHHF have the mission to improve the health of Hispanics and other underserved.  NHMA represents over 45,000 Hispanic physicians and advocates for culturally competent Federal and State health policies. For more information see www.nhmamd.org.

SOURCE National Hispanic Medical Association

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