Nutrition Column – the Obesity Epidemic: Focus of Mary Scott Lecture Series

"How did American get fat and how do we change it now?" That is the question Dr. James O. Hill will address in a public lecture from 7-8:30 p.m. April 8 at the Fort Collins Marriott. Hill is the director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and author of the recently released book: "The Step Diet Book: Count steps, not calories, to lose weight and keep it off forever." Hill’s lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a book signing. Early arrival is recommended to assure a seat.

According to Hill, the average American gains 1 to 2 pounds each year, and this weight gain has created an epidemic of obesity in the United States. In some respects, the obesity epidemic is the result of a perfect storm created by dynamic interactions among our biology, our behavior and our environment. With our fast-paced, grab-and-go world where food is plentiful, increased portion sizes are associated with increased value, we e-mail our friends and colleagues rather than walk down the hall or street to talk with them and we spend long hours at our desks, we have unintentionally constructed our environment to promote overeating and to discourage physical activity.

So, who’s to blame? And, what can be done to reverse the trend? Hill will stress the need for environmental as well as individual changes and discuss strategies we can implement to reverse the obesity epidemic. Losing weight and keeping it off requires major lifestyle changes, and our success as a nation in achieving these has not been great. However, preventing weight gain can occur with small, achievable lifestyle changes.

Colorado on the Move is a statewide weight-gain prevention program. Its goal is to inspire Coloradans to make small changes in energy intake and physical activity with the goal of preventing weight gain. If we are to succeed in the weight management game, we must consider both sides of the energy balance court – energy intake and energy expenditure. Hill will discuss how an energy balance approach to obesity can lead to specific strategies to begin a reverse of the obesity epidemic.

On April 9, the Mary Scott Lecture Series will continue with an all-day conference, "The Obesity Epidemic: Etiology, Prevention and Treatment," also held at the Fort Collins Marriott.

This conference, which has filled, will feature 10 nationally-known experts in the fields of obesity research, prevention and treatment. The morning session will focus on the prevalence, incidence and impact of obesity, regulation of food intake and lipotoxicity. Speakers will include Tracy Nelson, Matt Hickey and Chris Bell from Colorado State University, James Hill from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Richard Ho with the Harvard Medical School. After lunch, recent advances in the prevention of obesity through diet, physical activity and lifestyle changes will be discussed. John Jakicic with the University of Pittsburg and Joseph Donnelly with the University of Kansas will focus on the effectiveness of physical activity, and CSU’s Chris Melby will discuss the effect of high- and low-carb diets on weight management. The final session will focus on obesity treatment. Holly Wyatt with the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center will discuss the use of pharmacology and herbal remedies, and Walter Pories, East Carolina university School of Medicine, will discuss the use of surgical approaches to treat obesity.

For more information on the conference, contact Maggie Graham at (970) 491-1936 or visit the Conference Web page at

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by Pat Kendall, R.D., Ph.D., Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Colorado State University, Cooperative Extension