Epidemic of chronic diseases focus of Oxford Health Alliance Conference


Global leaders and researchers will address the world's leading causes of death in a three-day Oxford Health Alliance conference at the Yale School of Medicine starting October 30 at The Anlyan Center, 300 Cedar St.

The four biggest killers--cardiovascular disease, several cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease--are tied to three main risks –tobacco use, unhealthy diets and a lack of physical activity. Researchers and policy makers will present compelling new evidence on the devastating economic and human impact of these diseases, which have received too little attention from governments and policy makers, in countries as diverse as China and India, South Africa and Brazil and the United States.

The conference is a call to action by researchers and industry leaders to address what the organizers call a preventable tragedy. The Oxford Health Alliance, through its action research arm, enables chronic-disease researchers from both the developed and developing worlds to pilot research projects. Their progress will be reported along with new global actions in an annual review to be released at the meeting. The overall goal of the conference is to raise awareness about the need for timely action on policy and at the grass roots level.

The diverse members of The Oxford Health Alliance are a multi-disciplinary consortium, including representatives from industry, non-governmental organizations, academia and U.N. agencies, who work together on many fronts, including community-based initiatives designed to raise awareness about the need for intervention and advocacy for effective policies.

"The World Health Organization recently released a major report showing that chronic diseases are the dominant cause of death in developing and developed countries," said Derek Yach, professor of global health in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (EPH) at Yale and the event's host. "This conference will emphasize the urgent need for effective actions to reduce tobacco use and obesity and promote physical activity."

Major presentations will be given by Dean of Yale School of Medicine Robert J. Alpern, M.D., John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Chief Medical Officer of the United Kingdom Department of Health, Sir Liam Donaldson, and Bernard Lown, 1985 Nobel Prize Winner for Peace and Director of Lown Cardiovascular Center and Research Foundation.

Additional presentations by Chris Murray and Alan Lopez will call for better global data to guide actions; Kelly Brownell of the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity will highlight the dangers of obesity becoming "normalized" and Liming Lee, from the Academy of Medical Science/Peking Union Medical College, will provide new evidence that obesity is spreading in China.

The content and focus of 20 new community-based research projects from all continents will be presented. Dick Crawford of McDonald's will present the role of the private food industry in developing solutions to the obesity crisis, while Yale's efforts to transform college food will be outlined by Yale student Sarah Milby of Community Health Educators Nutrition Group.

Lars Rebien Sørensen, CEO of healthcare company Novo Nordisk, and John Seffrin, President of the American Cancer Society, will join John Bell of Oxford for closing remarks.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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