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Release: Sept. 17, 2002

Shenkin to participate in Healthy Schools Summit Oct. 7-8 in Washington, D.C.

A pediatric dentistry resident at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry is among the invited presenters to a national conference focused on childhood nutrition and fitness.

Jonathan Shenkin, D.D.S., will participate in "Healthy Schools Summit: Taking Action for Children's Nutrition and Health," being held Oct. 7-8 in Washington, D.C. He will present, "Creating a Network of Change Agents," at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. Shenkin is the only dentist invited to participate in the event.

First Lady Laura Bush will serve as honorary chairwoman of the summit. Former Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., will chair the event. Health and education experts from more than 30 national organizations also will attend the meeting.

The Healthy Schools Summit will provide an update on the nutrition and fitness status of America's children and its impact on academic performance. Participants will examine solutions for creating healthier school environments with primary focus on the establishment of state teams organized to develop local actions following the summit.

"The summit will attempt to identify the causes of obesity in children and adolescents, with a great deal of attention focused on the effective role of schools in preventing further escalation of this looming epidemic," Shenkin said.

Concern over obesity on Americans' health has grown in recent years. In March 2001, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released survey data noting that 11 percent of children and 14 percent of adolescents were overweight in 1999.

A report released by Satcher last December called obesity a national epidemic and urged schools and communities to help children lose weight and adopt healthier lifestyles. The report encouraged physical education for all children from kindergarten through 12th grade and emphasized

healthier food and beverage options on school campuses and at school events. Some health experts believe that the availability of vending machines plays a role in obesity among youngsters.

"According to numerous national nutritional surveys, the over-consumption of empty calorie beverages has led to an increase in overall caloric intake in children and adolescents," Shenkin said. "Parents concerned about the health and well-being of their children and the excess availability of soft drinks in schools should be willing to help make change in their communities."

For more information on the Healthy Schools Summit, visit their Web site at www.actionforhealthykids.org.