Outreach and Public Engagement

Public Service

Nutrition education must also extend into the general public. The Minnesota Obesity Center has formed an obesity rapid response team and makes the services of that team available to regional news outlets. The purpose of the rapid response team is to provide learned and appropriate perspectives on the constant new information (with respect to obesity and nutrition) that now bombards the general public. By providing a ready repository of expertise that can be contacted by the media, we trust that we have improved the general level of discourse and suppressed the misinformation so commonly appearing in the media, particularly in the area of obesity.

Conference Sponsorship

By sponsoring these types of conferences, the MN Obesity Center provides forums for discussions of obesity research findings among local investigators and nationally recognized obesity experts.

  • National Conference on Childhood and Adolescent Obesity: Prevention and Intervention
  • Third Annual School of Public Health Roundtable "Meeting the Challenge of Obesity: Uniting Public Health Research, Practice and Policy."
  • In fall 2004 a conference was organized to recognize Ancel Keys' 100th birthday. The Minnesota Obesity Center was involved at several levels. The planning committee included Russell Luepker (chair), Clifford Steer, Charles Billington, Allen Levine and David Brown.
  • In summer 2004 the MN Obesity Center supported a conference "Shaping the Future: Strategies for Addressing Obesity," organized by the MN Society of Public Health Educators. Nicolaas Pronk, a Center Participating Investigator, was the keynote speaker, Allen Levine presented, and the Center provided support to bring in an additional speaker.
  • Recently, the Center provided critical support for both the conference on Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives: Setting the Agenda, and the Whole Grains & HEALTH: A Global Summit.

Professional and Public Nutrition Efforts

The Disordered Eating Assessment Core has contributed substantially to professional and public nutrition education efforts with members of the core speaking frequently at a variety of national and local community agencies. Dr. Scott J. Crow, Core Director, along with the assessment director for the group, Dr. Carol Peterson, gave a talk to the Minnesota Psychological Association membership on obesity, binge eating disorder, and their treatments in 2000. The talk was selected as one of two encore presentations for that year, and was given in April 2002.

Dr. Crow gave grand rounds lectures on obesity and binge eating disorder for the Student Health Services at the University of Minnesota; on obesity metabolic issues in psychopharmacology at Gunderson Clinic in LaCrosse, Wisconsin in April 2001, and on treatment of bulimia nervosa at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Psychiatry in February 2001. Dr. Crow also gave an invited presentation at the President’s Symposium for the Psychiatric Research Society meeting in January 2002 on the topic of full syndromal versus subthreshold anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.

Dr. Peterson presented on assessment and diagnosis of eating disorders as well as treatment of body images disturbance in workshops at the International Conference on Eating Disorders in April 2005. Dr. Crow presented on the landmark Minnesota Semi-starvation Study in November 2004. The Eating Disorders SubCore continues to sponsor the longstanding and successful assessment training seminar and was expanded to bring these services to a wider variety of investigators in the departments of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics who are looking at weight gain in psychiatric illness, obesity, and eating disorders.

General Public Concerns

The Minnesota Obesity Center Administration Office maintains a phone bank that fields phone calls from the general public seeking information on topics ranging from weight loss programs/camps to potential treatments. When obesity-related topics, such as a new obesity drug, are covered by the news media, the phone bank will receive phone calls requesting additional information on the topic. Frequently, the office receives requests for specific information for which materials must be collected and distributed.

Volunteers

The Minnesota Obesity Center maintains a volunteer list of over 500 subjects waiting to participate in Centered-sponsored research.

News Organizations

Minnesota Obesity Center investigators frequently provide interviews for local news programs and for public radio, and write articles for health newsletters.

Multimedia

Members of the Minnesota Obesity Center regularly participate in the university health television series “Health Talk and You,” as well as many other radio and television outlets. The existence of a center has certainly enhanced the visibility of obesity with respect to the general public.