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APHA Annual Conference 2011 Review

November 16, 2011
Art at the conference center in DC

Wolly mammoth at the conference center in DC

For the past few years I have attended the American Public Health Association Annual Conference.  This year the conference was located in Washington D.C.  Here is a good ‘ol list of things that stuck out to me:

  1. The stigma of obesity is currently a hot topic in public health.  One study looked at how obese individuals are portrayed in advertisements.  For example, often times they are portrayed only from the head to their neck.  What impact is this having on our society and obese individuals?
  2. Health promotion campaigns and health communication is a growing field in public health, especially with the abundance of technology in our lives.  One campaign found it more effective to use the phrase “Don’t drink your self sick” than “Don’t drink yourself fat”.   The state of being sick compared to fat is looked upon very differently by society.
  3. I personally loved the campaigns that showed a man eating 15 packets of sugar, with the line “You wouldn’t eat 15 packets of sugar, so why drink it?” following it.   This messages screams, why are you still drinking soda America?!?  If you were going to click on one link in this post, please let it be for this campaign.
  4. The public health sector needs to use a consistent name for sugar sweetened/sugary/sugar loaded beverages.   I  prefer sugar loaded beverage – sweetening something may sound OK, whereas being loaded with sugar sounds horrible
  5. Mental health initiatives were more present in a lot of the research being presented – at least to me.  Life is stressful, budgets are tight, but we need to make mental health a priority.
  6. This years film fest, coordinated by Gary Black of the Health Communication Working Group, showcased a variety of different films.  The Film Fest is always a highlight of the conference for me.
  7. The conference center sold salads, fruit, and yogurt.  I managed to find somewhat healthy and fresh food around the conference (even if I had to walk a bit) and at the socials I attended.  Thanks to Marla Clayman who showed me the list of health food options put together by Meatless Mondays  by the conference center.
  8. Along with this annual conference comes an expo – booth after booth of schools and public health organizations and non-profits.  It made me sad that I was offered candy and sugary snacks.  One book gave out packs of raisins and pistachios, another apples.  Kudos to these booths for the healthy incentive.
  9. Rebecca Klineand the Food and
    School garden on the food tour

    School garden on the food tour

    Environment group organize a food tour for the Saturday prior the conference.  Even though it rained throughout the day and was cold, it was a great experience.  The highlight of the tour was visiting Bread for the City.  Not only do they provide food, health care, and law services – they make providing fresh food a priority.

  10. Next year the conference will be on October 27-31 in San Francisco, CA.  The theme is Prevention and Wellness Across the Lifespan.

The call for abstracts will go out soon!   Stay tuned!

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