Childhood obesity is topic for UCSF health policy lecture

By Kirsten Michener

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will address the issue of childhood obesity on Wednesday, May 21, as featured speaker in the UCSF Chancellor’s Health Policy Lecture Series.

The event will take place in the UCSF Medical Sciences Building at 513 Parnassus Ave., in Cole Hall Auditorium, from noon to 1 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

UCSF Executive Vice Chancellor Eugene Washington will introduce Lavizzo-Mourey, whose lecture is titled “Building a Social Movement to Reverse Childhood Obesity.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving health and health care for all Americans. A practicing physician with business credentials and hands-on experience developing national health policy, Lavizzo-Mourey was drawn to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation by the opportunity, as she puts it, to “alter the trajectory and to push society to change for the better.” Under her leadership, the foundation has made a priority of halting the rise in childhood obesity by 2015.

Lavizzo-Mourey is the fifth speaker in the lecture series, which was established in 2006. The series brings a major figure in health policy to the UCSF campus to raise awareness in the community of the important health policy issues of the day. In addition to her public lecture, Lavizzo-Mourey will meet throughout the day with leaders of UCSF’s four schools-dentistry, medicine, nursing, and pharmacy-UCSF Medical Center, and friends of the University.

“Here we are in 2008, a nation with the most obese adults and children in the world,” says Lavizzo-Mourey. “We did not become this way overnight, but through many changes in our behavior, social norms, and public policies.”

Several factors have contributed to the rise in obesity, she says, including the dramatic increase in food portion sizes starting with the fast food super-size movement in the 1980s.

She cites the rise in how much food Americans eat outside their homes as another. The portion of Americans’ food budgets spent on meals outside the home increased from 27 percent of household food budgets in 1962 to 46 percent of these budgets in 2002. “This matters because we know that both children and adults eat significantly more calories when they eat at restaurants than when they eat at home,” she says.

Coupled with the increase in calories consumed has been a steady decline in the amount of physical activity that children engage in. “In other words, the energy we take in exceeds the energy we burn, creating an energy gap,” says Lavizzo-Mourey.

“I believe it will take a social movement fueled by evidence-based policies that cut across clinical, community, business, and agricultural settings-not individually but together-to make it possible for individuals and families to choose healthy behaviors as the default option and reverse the obesity epidemic,” she says.

Lavizzo-Mourey joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2001 as senior vice president and director of the health care group. She was the Sylvan Eisman Professor of Medicine and Health Care Systems at the University of Pennsylvania, and director of Penn’s Institute on Aging. In Washington, D.C., she served as deputy administrator of what is now the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. She is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

Lavizzo-Mourey earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School, and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. She completed a residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, and trained in geriatrics at Penn. A practicing physician as well as an agent for wide-scale social change, she still treats patients at a community health clinic in New Brunswick, N.J.

The UCSF Chancellor’s Health Policy Lecture Series is organized by a committee with representatives from each of UCSF’s schools and UCSF Medical Center. The lectures are designed to have broad appeal across the University because health policy is relevant to all health disciplines.

## Reporters and Editors

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, will be available for a discussion with reporters immediately after her lecture at 1:00 p.m. For a reservation to join the discussion, please contact Kirsten Michener at UCSF News Services: (415) 476-2557, [email protected].