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.