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Source: McGill University

It Takes a Society: Fighting Childhood Obesity

October 18, 2006

undisputed pandemic of childhood obesity worldwide threatens to be the major
public health problem of the new century. We have created a modern society
in which the first generation of children of the new millennium could be the
first since the rise of the industrial revolution to have a shorter lifespan
than its predecessors.

Dr. Laurette Dubé, internationally respected professor in consumer and
lifestyle psychology and marketing, food and health specialist, and founding
chair and scientific director of the McGill University Integrative Health
Challenge Think Tank, is a passionate proponent of the view that we need to
mobilize individuals, organizations and society on a grand scale to unleash
enough action to affect the tipping point of a healthy lifestyle epidemic.

To that end, the McGill Integrative Health Challenge Think Tank: Forging a
Societal Action Plan in Preventing Childhood Obesity Around the World will
be held in Montreal, October 26-27 (opening session 6 p.m., October 25) at
the Mount Royal Centre, 2200 Mansfield, across from the historic McGill
University campus. The think tank is an invitation-only event. Only the
opening and closing sessions will be open to the general media.

The think tank will convene leading academics, professionals and decision-
and policy-makers from the domains of health, education, agriculture and
food, leisure and sports, urban planning, media, finance, management, law,
politics and economy to develop a bolder approach to the prevention of
childhood obesity around the world. Participants will forge the draft
version of a societal plan for childhood obesity prevention currently in the
making by the Global Prevention Alliance, a partnership among five
international medical associations that works in close collaboration with
the World Health Organization. The opening keynote speaker will be economist
and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, with a word of welcome by the
Quebec Minister of Health, Philippe Couillard.

Participants will address key challenges to be faced if societal action
plans currently being pushed by the health community around the world are to
galvanize action instead of opposition. They will also examine key premises
in society that need to be revisited to reach any critical mass in efforts
to curb obesity, including freewill/personal responsibility for individuals,
persisting in the prescribe/comply model for health organizations, being in
the "business of doing business" for corporations, and operating along the
"health/economic divide" for governments. The conference will conclude with
the launch of the Montreal Call to Challenge "Business as Usual" on
childhood obesity by the Mayor of Montreal, Gérald Tremblay, and the
unveiling of a worldwide e-think tank to solicit ideas, encourage public
feedback and broaden the fight.

This event is organized by McGill University in partnership with the Global
Prevention Alliance, the American Heart Association, the Canadian Institutes
for Health Research and other health, philanthropic, agriculture and
economic organizations. More detailed information on the think tank content,
partners and participants is available at
Conference Co-chairs:

Laurette Dubé, Professor, James McGill Chair in Consumer and Lifestyle
Psychology and Marketing, Desautels Faculty of Management; Founding Chair
and Scientific Director, McGill Health Challenges Think Tank, Canada

Philip James, Chair, Global Prevention Alliance; Founder and Chair,
International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), UK
Program Highlights:

Opening keynote address:

  • Paul R. Krugman, Professor, Economics and Public Affairs, Economics
    Department, Princeton University; Columnist, The New York Times, USA

    Keynote commentaries offered by:

  • Catherine Le Gales-Camus, Assistant-Director General, Non-communicable
    Diseases and Mental Health, WHO, Switzerland

  • Alan Bernstein, President, Canadian Institutes for Health Research,

  • Robert Eckel, President, American Heart Association, USA

    Confirmed participants:

    >From Health:

  • Michel Marmot, Chair, WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health,

  • Jean-Marie Le Guen, Physician and Deputy, Paris, President of the
    Study Group, National Assembly, France

  • William Dietz, Director, Nutrition and Physical Activity Program,
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA

  • Kaare Norum, Professor Emeritus and Rector Emeritus, Institute for
    Nutrition Research, School of Medicine, Oslo University; Former Chair, WHO
    Reference Group on "Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health,"

  • Boyd Swinburn, Professor and Chair, Public Health and Nutrition;
    Founder, WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention and Related
    Research and Training, Deakin University, Australia

  • Robert Beaglehole, Director, Department of Chronic Diseases and Health
    Promotion, WHO, Switzerland

  • Chunming Chen, Professor and Senior Advisor, Chinese Centre for
    Disease Control and Prevention; Founding President, Chinese Academy for
    Preventive Medicine, China

  • Carlos A. Monteiro, Professor, School of Public Health and Centre for
    Epidemiological Research in Health and Nutrition, University of São Paulo,

  • Benjamin Caballero, Director, Center for Human Nutrition; Professor,
    Johns Hopkins Center for Human Nutrition, USA

  • Thomas N. Robinson, Departments of Pediatrics and Medicine, Stanford
    University School of Medicine, USA

  • Adam Drewnowski, Professor, Epidemiology, School of Public Health and
    Community Medicine; Director, Center for Public Health Nutrition, University
    of Washington, USA

    >From Economics, Business, Agriculture and Other Disciplines:

  • Daniel Kahneman, 2002 Nobel Laureate, Economic Sciences, USA

  • Kevin Murphy, Economic Sciences, University of Chicago

  • T. S. Srinivasan, Economic Sciences, Yale University

  • Lance Friedman, Senior Vice President, Kraft Foods Inc., USA

  • Wilbert J. Keon, Canadian Senator; President & CEO, University of
    Ottawa Heart Institute, Canada

  • William Bernstein, Author of The Birth of Plenty and The Four Pillars
    of Investments, USA

  • George Loewenstein, Professor, Economics and Psychology, Department of
    Social and Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, USA

  • Brian Wansink, Cornell University; Director, Cornell Food and Brand
    Lab, USA

  • David Fidler, International Law, Indiana University

  • Louise Fresco, Former Assistant Director-General, Food and Agriculture
    Organization, United Nations; University Professor, Universiteit van
    Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Gary W. Evans, Human Ecology, Departments of Design and Environmental
    Analysis and of Human Development, College of Human Ecology, Cornell
    University, USA

  • Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Professor, Food Nutrition and Public Policy,
    Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University; Former
    Director-General, International Food Policy Research Institute, USA

  • Nick Drager, Senior Advisor, Department of Ethics, Trade, Human Rights
    and Health Law, WHO, Switzerland

  • John Holland, Author of Emergence: From Chaos to Order, USA

  • David Bornstein, Author of How to Change the World: Social
    Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas and The Price of a Dream: The Story
    of the Grameen Bank, USA

  • Claude Fischler, Sociologist, Director of Research, National Centre of
    Scientific Research, France


    Kathryn Haralambous
    Communications Officer
    University Relations Office, McGill University

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