LSU AgCenter Spearheads Nutrition Summit

Terri Crawford, Van Osdell, Mary Ann  |  11/20/2007 9:39:36 PM

(Distributed 11/20/07)

WINNSBORO – Realizing that the many programs offered by a variety of agencies are powerful tools to address poor diet and inactivity, the LSU AgCenter brought together state and regional nutrition and health organizations for a Nutrition Connections Summit on Nov. 15.

If current trends continue through 2020, treating the consequences of obesity will consume a large amount of health care expenditures, said Terri Crawford, LSU AgCenter agent and event coordinator.

Agencies in attendance can leverage their resources and collaborate to bring new and varied perspectives on addressing existing problems, Crawford said.

Held at the LSU AgCenter’s Scott Research and Extension Center, the event included 46 people representing 15 agencies, including the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana Council on Obesity Prevention and Management and Southeast United Dairy Industry Association.

Dr. William B. Richardson, LSU AgCenter chancellor, opened the program by discussing his quest for a healthier lifestyle and the documentation of his efforts on a daily blog on the LSU AgCenter Web site,

“You don’t have to spend much time looking in the media to know we have health challenges in our country. It is time as a state that we deal with the issues before us,” Richardson said. “We all have assets, things we can bring to the table if we don’t worry about who gets the credit. We pledge we will come to the table to see if we can have some impact on nutrition and malnutrition.”

Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor, said children are riding scooters and go-carts rather than walking, and they are more interested in YouTube than physical activity. He added that hunting and fishing licenses are declining nationwide.

Dr. Bernestine McGee of Southern University said dietary patterns need to be targeted at an early age.

“We can reach over 200,000 kids a year,” Coreil said. “4-H has to be a big part of challenging youth to adopt a healthy lifestyle.”

He said dropout rates are high and not having a job adds to misery. “When the misery index is high, people aren’t healthy,” said Coreil. “Without hope, you’re not worried about your health.”

Lauren Ogles, a high school senior and 4-H member from Ouachita Parish, told about her efforts as a former member of the Louisiana State 4-H Food and Fitness Board. The 2005 state 4-H foods and nutrition record book winner said, “The one thing I have to think about when I cook is good nutrition.”

Flo Wyles, child nutrition supervisor in Caldwell Parish, shared her successes of school lunch menus with nonfat and low-fat milk, more whole grains and less sodium while using no fryers in the school system. No soft drinks are served in elementary schools, and there is no more recess detention, she said.

A network of extension educators from the LSU AgCenter can present programs on nutrition and health, family resource management and family development, Crawford said. The AgCenter is one of five partners in the Delta Nutrition Intervention Research Initiative being conducted in Franklin Parish to examine the health benefits to be achieved through nutrition interventions, she added.

Crawford said four of the 10 leading causes of death in the Lower Mississippi Delta could be prevented or managed through improved nutrition.

The rate of obesity is 31 percent in the Louisiana Delta, compared to the national rate of 17 percent, Crawford said. High blood pressure among adults there is 31 percent, compared to the national rate of 20 percent. Diabetes among adults is 11 percent, compared to the national rate of 6 percent.

Adults in the Louisiana Delta eat 11 percent less dairy products than the national average, 35 percent less fruits, 24 percent less vegetables, 27 percent more sugar, 14 percent more meat and 6 percent more calories than the national average, she added.

Summit participants will form work groups, Crawford said, and she will investigate collaborative seminars.

“I hope you come back in a year or two and see we’re at the top of the list in turning obesity around,” said Dr. Robert Hutchinson, Northeast regional director of the LSU AgCenter. “We need to take a rifle approach rather than a shotgun approach.”


Terri Crawford at (318) 435-2903, or

Mary Ann Van Osdell at (318) 741-7430, ext. 1104, or

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