CDC speaker highlights Diabetes Prevention and Management Seminar and Panel

December 31, 2012

Photo: Dr. Carl Caspersen of the CDC speaks at the SPHHS Diabetes Prevention & Management Seminar and Panel Discussion

Carl Caspersen, Ph.D., an expert in physical activity and diabetes at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, was the keynote speaker at a Diabetes Prevention and Management Seminar and Panel Discussion held at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on October 22, 2012, at the Marriott Center on campus. The event – the first in a planned series sponsored by the School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) and ENVIRON, a global science, technology and health consulting firm with offices in Amherst – was open to the public and drew a diverse audience including SPHHS faculty and students, local community health professionals, and concerned individuals.

Dr. Caspersen delivered a talk titled the “Epidemiology, Surveillance, and Public Health Perspectives Regarding Diabetes in Older Adults,” which focused on the alarming increase in rates of diabetes among the nation’s elderly. Caspersen, who is associate director for science in the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, has conducted research in physical activity epidemiology and surveillance, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer epidemiology, aging populations, health policy and community-based interventions. He is an author and editor for the first Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, and provided scientific support for the 2008 U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines.

Photo: Dr. Barry Braun

The Seminar also featured SPHHS faculty members Dr. Barry Braun, Associate Professor of Kinesiology, speaking on the “Physiology of Physical Activity as a Strategy to Prevent Diabetes,” and Dr. Lisa Chasan-Taber, Professor of Epidemiology, on “Physical Activity and Gestational Diabetes.” The series of talks highlighted the broad public health issues confronting communities locally and globally among diverse populations.

“In addition to training new public health professionals, the School of Public Health and Health Sciences should be a resource at the university, local and national level on urgent public health topics such as the prevention of diabetes,” explained Dr. Kenneth Mundt, ENVIRON epidemiologist and former SPHHS faculty member. “I hope that the SPHHS-ENVIRON Seminar Series will provide a forum for highlighting the important research conducted at the School, and communicating research results to benefit public health.”

Photo: Dr. Lisa Chasan-Taber

A panel discussion on western Massachusetts community efforts to fight diabetes and promote healthy lifestyle support strategies and intervention programs for preventing and managing diabetes immediately followed the lectures. Patty Freedson, Chair of the Department of Kinesiology, moderated the panel, which included the invited speakers as well as Kelly Henry, RN, a diabetes educator and program coordinator for the Cooley Dickinson Center for Excellence in Diabetes Education; Patricia Daly, RN, a health system specialist for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Program; Wanda Givens, director of the Springfield Mason Square Health Task Force; and Stuart Chipkin, MD, an endocrinologist and co-principal investigator for the Western Massachusetts Public Health Training Center.

The panel group fielded questions from the audience for nearly an hour in an open forum question and answer session.

Marjorie Aelion, Dean of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, was encouraged by the turnout from within and without the campus, noting that the audience took away a number of effective lifestyle strategies for preventing and managing diabetes, both in their households and in their communities, along with a greater understanding of the methodologies being used to fight the diabetes epidemic on a national and local level.

The SPHHS hosted a reception immediately following the event to further encourage community collaboration.