Search Results

Keyword: ‘obesity’

Will Global Obesity Summit break new ground?

November 10th, 2010 Comments off

How phat is it to have some of the preeminent medical minds in the world in Mississippi for the next couple of days to talk about how fat we are in Mississippi?

The Global Obesity Summit began in Jackson this morning with Gov. Haley Barbour welcoming, via satellite, everyone to the Hospitality State in an effort to shine a spotlight on the ever expanding problem of obesity in Mississippi as well as across the nation.

Most of us have battled with being overweight at some point in our lives, including our governor, who, along with wife Marsha, spearheaded an effort to get Mississippians walking. The governor lost a few pounds himself, along the way. However, like so many normal folks, he has gain it back and makes his comments knowing full well the difficulty of attacking obesity in Mississippi.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership are the sponsors of this three-day event, and really smart people are going to be talking about a lot of mind-bending advancements in medicine and health care techniques.

However, I can’t help but think back to my days as editor of the Delta Democrat Times in Greenville a few years ago, when we hosted the Delta Economic Summit.

The keynote address that day came from Dr. Kenneth Cooper, who is generally thought as the Father of the Physical Fitness Movement in the United States.

He is the founder and chairman of the Cooper Aerobics Center in Texas and, according to his website, is credited with motivating more people to exercise in pursuit of good health than any other person.

That day, five years ago, Cooper stood before the most prominent business leaders of the Mississippi Delta and preached the gospel of health and fitness. He described how those folks in that room could make a difference in an area that is the epicenter of obesity in the state that is the epicenter for obesity in the United States.

He was so inspiring, I along with then DDT publisher John Clark, instituted an incentive-laden walking program at our plant. Others left the Delta Economic Summit that day with similar intentions.

Five years later, Cooper is back in Mississippi to talk to a larger, yet no less influential, set of business and government leaders. Gov. Barbour again kicked off the events, this time, however, not talking about the importance of fried catfish to the people of Mississippi.

Maybe if Gov. Barbour has learned a lesson, everyone else can too.

Not sure which sun Bryant is talking about

January 25th, 2012 Comments off

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant delivers his first State of the State address Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 on the steps of the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. Bryant used the address to unveil detailed policy proposals, from education to health care to energy, saying he wants to create a "Mississippi Works Agenda."

Gov. Phil Bryant said a lot of things Tuesday night in his first State of the State address.

He’s for more jobs. …

He’s against obesity. …

And he’s for education and energy. …

But there was one quote that stood out as Bryant proclaimed that he is also for economic development.

“Economic development is the sun in our universe and everything revolves around it,” Bryant said.

That sounds something like his quote in a Hattiesburg American story by Ruben Mees from Jan. 23, 2007 with the headline, “Bryant launches campaign for lt. governor.”

“‘Education is the sun of the governmental universe; everything revolves around it, whether it’s economic development, transportation or any other issue,’ [Bryant] said, pointing out that Mississippi’s 35 percent dropout rate is unacceptable.”

So, which is it — economic development or education?

I guess it doesn’t matter. It all sounded real good.

Bryant forges ahead on healthcare city

November 23rd, 2011 Comments off

You have to give Gov.-elect Phil Bryant credit.

Gov.-elect Phil Bryant

He is jumping in with both feet to work on campaign promises.

>> Read more about healthcare in Mississippi

Bryant is set to lead a trip to Houston, Texas, to tour Texas Medical Center on Nov. 29-30.

Bryant, who will become governor in January, will be joined by Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., Flowood Mayor Gary Rhoads and some health care providers and business leaders.

Texas Medical Center consists of 49 institutions and is recognized as the largest medical center in the world. TMC has 162 buildings on its main campus, nearly 7,000 patient beds, over 90,000 employees, and 71,500 students.

Bryant has proposed creating a hospital city in Jackson, and the Texas Medical Center is a great place to emulate.

We hope that Bryant is able to find the same type of money from the private sector that Texas has been able to collect over the last 50 years.

A friend of mine in the fund-raising business for hospitals says that finding people to give huge amounts of money for healthcare these days is difficult.

Having said that, we applaud Bryant’s efforts.

Of course, one of the things Bryant could do immediately would be to ramp up the discussion on prevention and education.

We harken back to the recent story, “Life Expectancy Falling in 561 Rural Counties” by Bill Bishop that documents the fact that life expectancy is declining in more rural areas than urban ones. Read it. The first thing, though, that pops out is that 14 of the top (uh, worst) 50 counties in America with the shortest life expectancies are in Mississippi, including the top (worst) seven.

Then, there was the report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that highlighted Mississippi and Alabama as the only two states, which continue to apply their sales tax fully to food purchased for home consumption without providing any offsetting relief for low- and moderate-income families.

Gosh, if Mississippians were able to purchase more healthy foods, maybe they wouldn’t have such short lifespans.

There’s more. Men’s Health magazine ranked Jackson No. 3 in the nation as part of its “Laziest City in America” series.

We definitely need a hospital city as well as lots of sidewalks leading up to it so we can exercise on the way to being treated for obesity and heart disease.

So, with one of the slowest growing economies in the nation because of poor education and health care, Bryant’s feeling that healthcare is a prime issue is refreshing.

Starting with the elimination of corn-based sodas from K-12 campuses could jump-start all of Bryant’s plans. We agree.

We also agree that his trip to Houston is productive and a step in the right direction.

Ball State University report: Mississippi is fat and stupid

June 17th, 2011 3 comments

Mississippians are fat, stupid and doomed to low-wage, menial careers, according to a Ball State University report.

However, officials at the Mississippi Economic Council scoff at the findings, leading MEC president Blake Wilson to say, “I’m glad (they are) very safe behind (their) internet research perch.”

>>>SEE REPORT<<<

Michael Hicks, director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research, which conducted the study, told the Mississippi Business Journal that 4 out of 10 Mississippians are not going to be able to compete for jobs in the new manufacturing world, which depends greatly on mathematical skills and education.

“We’re in trouble. We are in big trouble,” admitted former Mississippi university and high school administrator Reggie Barnes.

The Ball State report graded all 50 states in several areas of the economy that support manufacturing and logistics. Mississippi ranked low in education, obesity and overall health, among other categories.

“Mississippi is a nice place,” Hicks said. “But the only jobs most people are going to get are shucking oysters and sweeping floors.”

Mississippi received an overall score of C+ for manufacturing and good grades in diversification and tax climate. However, failing grades in human capital and venture capital give Mississippi a dim economic future to look toward.

“Obviously, he has never been to Mississippi,” Wilson said. “That’s just a ridiculous statement. Anybody that knows anything about Mississippi knows we’ve got all kinds of high-tech employment.

“He’s probably looking at older data when he’s looking at that conclusion,” Wilson said. “And this is why we don’t take this kind of study very seriously. I mean it’s legitimate research. It’s just that it doesn’t mean a whole lot.”

But when asked about the MEC response, Hicks chuckled and said, “So, let me guess, the MEC is wanting to tell you that Mississippi is a great place and I am some Yankee that doesn’t know what he is talking about?

“To say that poor education is not holding back Mississippi from an economic perspective is to suggest your head is in the sand or a darker orifice,” he said.
One Mississippi expert acknowledges the downside of the report, and says this should be a wake up call to Mississippi leaders to make a change.

“An F on human capital? Ouch,” exclaims Mississippi College assistant professor of finance Nancy Anderson, who is also on the board of the Mississippi Council on Economic Education.

Anderson, however, noted that most southern states are similarly graded.
“Our lower grades are ‘fixable,’ with some effort,” Anderson said. “This seems to be a call for more investment in education, more funding for university research. The venture capital hurdle can even be cleared, with some help from the public sector.”

Mississippi officials — Including Jay Moon at the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and director of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Hank Bounds — were not available to the Mississippi Business Journal for an interview regarding this story.

“Some states, such as Indiana, have seen a real turnaround in manufacturing employment since the end of the recession (up 4.6 percent), while the nation as a whole has seen one in 50 manufacturing jobs lost,” Hicks says.

“Prior to the recession, business location and expansion decisions were almost wholly driven by the availability of skilled workers,” he says. “Today, that is far less a short term consideration, and tax rates, and concern about future tax increases due to high pension costs and other factors dominate business decisions to relocate.  So, states that emerge from this recession with a solid fiscal climate will tend to outperform those with uncertain balance sheets.”

That is good news for Mississippi in the short term.

“Haley Barbour will be glad to hear that,” Hicks said. “Mississippi will likely benefit for the near term because of its friendly tax laws and diversity of manufacturing. In the current recovery, states with good tax climates are going to do well.”

But in Mississippi, the real problem of education and healthcare “has not gone away,” Hicks said.

While Mississippi may be gaining cutting-edge manufacturing from the solar and green energy sector, there are few actual Mississippians who can take advantage of the new jobs. Therefore, the new jobs will likely go to people moving from other states, having little positive effect on the double-digit unemployment here.

Even if Mississippi gets all of the high-tech jobs on the plant, Mississippians, for the most part, aren’t going to be the people working there, Hicks explains. (Mississippians) are good people, but they lack the education to work in a real-world economy.

The other side is that because of the poor education and general health of the state (the fattest state in America), Hicks says the best applicants likely will never consider moving to Mississippi.

“That’s the problem,” Hicks says of the long-term economic future of Mississippi. And the positives from the tax climate and diversification don’t come close to making up for the downsides.

“(Mississippi) is just not going to get (the new and best) major manufacturing plants,” Hicks said. “(Mississippians without a proper education) are out of the mix.”

The problem is with 8th grade math scores. Mississippi is far behind the rest of the nation and that is an area manufacturing is concentrating on.

In a cover story in Atlantic Magazine, education was front and center. Nationwide: only 6 percent of U.S. students perform at the advanced-proficiency level in math, a share that lags behind kids in some 30 other countries, from the United Kingdom to Taiwan.

In Mississippi, math scores are much worse, and students here — by this measure at least — might as well be attending school in Thailand or Serbia. Every year, a better education for our youth is listed as our top need, like in this Ball State report. To this point, Mississippi just cut spending at every level of education from kindergarten to graduate school.

Barnes said this is at the heart of the problem of education and industry and economy.

“When are we going to learn or wake up to the direct correlation between education and economic development?” Barnes asked. “We just keep our heads in the sand.”

School superintendents with experience are not willing to make a change at the local level for fear of losing their jobs and their retirement, because of the pressure put on them from above, he said. As for younger superintendents, he says they are unwilling to rock the boat for fear of having their future yanked out from under them.

“You must have these skills,” Hicks said. “Computer skills and a higher lever of math is what everyone is looking for.”

And Mississippi workers do not and will not have these skills, based on scores Ball State examined for its study.

“When are we going to make those changes?” Barnes asked. “I wish I could tell you someone, somewhere has the guts to stand up and change things, but I don’t see it.”

And then he said there is no debating that without an overhaul, Mississippi will continue to be compared to Thailand, where the large-scale sex industry flourishes and education is on the back burner.

UMMC can help pull state from historic economic woes

March 25th, 2011 Comments off

Colleges and universities, in general, are great economic engines for the cities and communities they are in.
Just ask people in places like Lorman or Cleveland or Columbus what life would be like without Alcorn State, Delta State and Mississippi University for Women (a.k.a. Reneau University).
Combine the economic development of a college setting with medical training for a state with a shortage of doctors and University of Mississippi Medical Center is nearly a perfect vehicle for Mississippi to recharge its economy.
Already, UMMC is the second largest employer (nearly 9,000 employees) in the state, behind Northrup Grumman.
However, when approached with economic impact numbers recently, many in the Mississippi Legislature were not aware of what UMMC meant to the business of Mississippi.
According to numbers provided by UMMC, it has an annual economic impact of $2.1 billion on the state with more than 17,000 jobs generated. It also pays more than $216 million in taxes to the state every year.
There are detractors, and there are those who would play down the impact UMMC has on economic development, and there are those who would argue UMMC creates a competitive imbalance with private hospitals throughout the state.
Neither of those opinions hold a lot of water.
Healthcare is big business in Mississippi and across the United States.
Some numbers show that 17 percent of the GDP is healthcare.
In Mississippi, as we know, the health of our citizens is rated as the worst in the country. We lead the nation in obesity.  Mississippi also ranks first, uh last, in the nation for high blood pressure, diabetes and adult inactivity.
The Delta and Southwest Mississippi are Ground Zero for those problems, which is also Ground Zero for a shortage of doctors, which, not so amazingly, Mississippi leads the nation in.
UMMC could be the answer on multiple levels. The medical school has a plan for putting more doctors on the ground in rural areas.
That helps the economy, including employment, income, retail sales, and sales tax collection.
In many Mississippi Delta counties already, the hospital is the No. 1 employer, and that’s with a shortage of doctors.
The bottom line is more doctors means more money, more jobs and a better economic outlook, as well as a better health care outlook for Mississippi.
In the end, that means there is less money spent on the health-related illnesses we have in Mississippi.
If UMMC can do all it is doing now, just think what it can do if the legislature, actually were to view it as the economic engine that it is.
It boggles the mind.

Contact MBJ editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or call him at (601) 364-1018.

••• UPDATE: Biggest Loser Patrick House will be featured speaker at MBJ’s EXPO

February 1st, 2011 Comments off

Patrick House, a Mississippi native and winner of NBC’s Biggest Loser, will be the featured speaker at the Mississippi Business Journal’s Mississippi Business and Technology EXPO.

The former offensive lineman at Delta State was last to step on the scales during the December finale of The Biggest Loser. House needed to have lost 177 pounds to win the $250,000 prize.

When the numbers finally stopped tumbling, the former 400 pounder had lost 182, down to 218 to win the prize. House, who now lives in Vicksburg, plans to move to South Carolina where he will teach at a school for morbidly obese teens. He plans to share his message of health and exercise and how he overcame his obesity as part of being a teacher and a coach at the school.

” I am really excited about the EXPO and the awesome possibilities it presents,” House said. “I cant begin to tell you how much The Biggest Loser has changed my life. It has ultimately saved my life. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity that was given to me.”

House went on to say that he is looking forward to meeting the winners of the Top 40 Under 40, because of what their leadership means to the future of Mississippi. He believes they can help make an impact by halting the spread of obesity in Mississippi.

According to some who have heard House speak previously, EXPO goers can expect a powerful, motivating, and inspiring speech.

Following House’s talk, The Biggest Loser champion will be available to visit, take pictures and ask questions at his booth. He will also be at the nightcap dinner for more questions and photo opportunities.

“I am so excited about this event,” House said. “Thank you for including me.”

Considering the ramifications poor health and obesity have had on Mississippi’s economy, House is the perfect person to give his inspirational message in front of many of the state’s top business leaders.

As for the EXPO, the Mississippi Business Journal happening is the state’s largest business-to-business networking event — the Mississippi Business & Technology EXPO. The event, presented by Comcast Business Class, will be held April 7, 2011 at the Trade Mart in Jackson. It is a special project of the Mississippi Business Journal.

Now in its 28th year, EXPO will feature nearly 200 exhibits and is expected to attract thousands of attendees. In addition, the event will feature multiple awards programs, free seminars, door prizes and more.

The EXPO’s hours Thursday, April 7, 2011 will be 9:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., including a Business After Hours networking party with 25 popular restaurants with live music and cash bar beginning at 5 p.m.

The Top 40 Under 40 Luncheon will also be held April 7, beginning at noon, and will recognize 40 of Mississippi’s top business and community leaders under the age of 40.

Informative seminars presented by Hinds Community College’s Eagle Ridge Conference Center and Mississippi State University Outreach Program will offer EXPO attendees and exhibitors additional opportunities for boosting their business savvy during the two-day event. From handling a tough customer to successful marketing strategies, don’t miss this chance to learn from professional trainers.

The show is open to the public, and general admission is free with a business card. For more information, call (601) 364-1000.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a sole proprietor or CEO of a large corporation, this is one event you don’t want to miss!

We hope to see you there!

For additional information about this special event of the Mississippi Business Journal, contact Tami Jones at (601) 364-1011.

House wins Biggest Loser, Delta State takes shot at national title

December 15th, 2010 Comments off

Patrick House, a former offensive lineman at Delta State, was last to step on the scales last night at The Biggest Loser finale. The Brandon native needed to have lost 177 pounds to win the $250,000 prize.

When the numbers finally stopped tumbling, the former 400 pounder had lost 182, down to 218 to win the prize. House, who now lives in Vicksburg, plans to to move to South Carolina where he will teach at a school for morbidly obese teens. He plans to share his message of health and exercise and how he overcame his obesity as part of being a teach and a coach at the school.

But, first, House’s former football team, Delta State plays Minnesota-Duluth Saturday for the NCAA Division II national championship.

If you believe in karma, you gotta believe the Statesmen will win their second-ever national championship.

Congratulations to House and good luck Statesmen, uh Okra.

Mississippi rated as least healthy state, again

December 8th, 2010 Comments off

As I sat in my office and ate an orange and drank my water this morning, I was really wanting big plate of eggs, bacon, grits toast and coffee. Then, I read that Vermont has been ranked as the healthiest state in the nation for the fourth consecutive year.

According to the Associated Press, the 2010 American’s Health Rankings released Tuesday put Massachusetts in second place, followed by New Hampshire with Mississippi as the least healthy state.

Yep, there we are again, last. … There is certain to be a press conference somewhere in Mississippi this week where Gov. Haley Barbour will talk of the need to cut more of the state budget, but we have made no concerted effort to put a dent in the obesity epidemic.

Yes, the 2010 Global Obesity Summit was held in Jackson a few weeks ago. There was lots of buildup prior to the event, boasting of how Mississippi is taking a lead role in the fight against fat. But when the dust had settled, there was no announcement of plans made or actions taken.

As a society in Mississippi, we like to talk about the economy and health care and taxes and the irresponsibility those in charge use in dealing with these matters. We like to think that if you just work hard and keep your nose clean, and balance your checkbook, everything will be OK.

But we turn a blind eye to the economic impact of obesity on our state. Somehow, that’s not our problem. Those poor fat folks should just stop eating the junk from the food stamps we give them.

While we rant on about self restraint, there’s a snowball rolling down a mountain straight at us.

Mississippi’s estimated annual healthcare cost attributed to adult obesity (in 2003 dollars) is $757 million, of which $223 million is cost to Medicare and $221 million is cost to Medicaid. Nationally, childhood obesity alone costs Medicaid more than $3 billion annually.

If we continue to talk about self restraint and personal responsibility (while noble), we are going to be run over by runaway medical costs that someone is going to have to pay for.

So, as you have another cup of coffee with that do-nut and ponder this, remember, the time for action is now.