Originally published April 30, 2012
The 83rd Annual Georgia Public Health Association two-day conference was held at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia April 12 and 13. This year's conference theme was "Healthy Georgians Living in Healthy Communities."
Hundreds of members gathered to discuss and learn more about how public health professionals in Georgia can work together to ensure that our people live and work in healthy communities all across the state.
As the director of the Department of Public Health and State Health Officer, Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., received a very warm welcome as the opening keynote speaker. Dr. Fitzgerald energized the crowd as she compared Public Health to a bear waking up from hibernation.
"We've been asleep for a while. We are a little lean. But we are awake and ready to work hard to protect the health of the people of Georgia!"
Dr. Fitzgerald went on to describe the public health crisis of our time - obesity - by sharing startling statistics.
"Nationwide, childhood obesity has risen 300 percent in the last 30 years," Fitzgerald said. "The number of obesity and overweight related hospitalizations in children has increased from close to 400 in 1999 to over 1,500 in 2010. This is a crisis."
Dr. Fitzgerald challenged members to change the behavior of not only the overweight and obese, but to change the behavior of Georgia's 10 million residents so we all stay healthy.
"With the combined efforts of everyone in this room, we will achieve this goal," said Dr. Fitzgerald.
The Georgia Public Health Association is an association of individuals and organizations working to improve the public's health. The association's vision is to see all Georgians as healthy and living in healthy communities. The association's is to advocate for conditions in which all people and communities can be healthy; to promote the scientific foundation of public health practice and policy; and to assure a continuous voice broadly representing public health in Georgia.