Summit to focus on youth obesity

Published 10:37 pm Wednesday, October 20, 2010

As a sequel to a youth obesity summit held this summer, the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy now is holding a community forum on the topic.

About 80 young people from Suffolk and surrounding areas spent a Friday in August learning how to advocate among their peers for a change in eating and exercising habits to combat obesity among young people.

Now, the organization is holding a summit open to everyone in the community. It will be held Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Tabernacle Christian Church, 2500 E. Washington St. Registration begins at 8 a.m.

The speaker will be Donald Lewis, the Eastern Virginia Medical School pediatric chair. Various workshops will focus on schools and church involvement, early childhood trends, advocacy and how the “built environment” can encourage or discourage an active lifestyle.

“It’s a way to bring the community together … and get them to understand the crisis and become more aware of how it’s impacting the community,” Seneca Bock, regional organizer for the project, said in August before the youth summit. “We want to hear from them their understandings, beliefs and opinions about childhood obesity.”

Young people at the August event said they attended because they were interested in learning about advocacy.

“I wanted to come just to be a youth advocate for childhood obesity and raise the level of awareness,” Britney Johnson, 16, said at the event. “This issue is very important, and it’s becoming epidemic.”

For more information on Saturday’s event, call 804-643-2474 or visit www.vaobesitysummit.com.