The Texas Health Institute (THI) is a 501c(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to “improve the health of Texans and their communities.” THI translates emerging research on population and preventive health into practical applications for communities. Their programs and educational offerings accelerate the implementation of new findings, creating opportunities for people to lead a healthy life.
For 11 years, THI has convened the Southern Obesity Summit (SOS) in partnership with 16 Southern states. As with Georgia Shape, SOS is a multi-agency, multi-dimensional initiative that brings together governmental, philanthropic, academic and business communities to address childhood obesity. Through SOS, Texas Health Institute connects and builds expertise on obesity prevention by providing an annual forum for the presentation and assimilation of best practices across the region and nation.
This year’s Southern Obesity Summit, in partnership with Georgia Shape and the Georgia Department of Public Health, will be held in Atlanta from October 1 - 3 with the theme, “Accelerating Health Equity,” in Southern states. Content will emphasize reducing health disparities and improving health equity, using data effectively and promoting public-private partnerships. The event will provide attendees with tools and opportunities to expand strategies relating to obesity prevention in their state.
“We are thrilled to bring SOS to Atlanta this year,” said Camille D. Miller, Texas Health Institute President and CEO. “Obesity is one of the most dire and burdensome public health epidemics, and our Southern states rank highest in obesity numbers. Convening our states to share effective programs, policies and resources is critical to making an impact.”
The obesity prevention work of SOS participants is predicated on seven core pillars: early childhood, schools, food access, nutrition policy, physical activity, worksite wellness and healthcare and healthcare systems. Over 60 different speakers will address these pillars in special sessions during the three-day summit, with representatives from each state sharing effective policies, programs and resources.
In addition to its focus on obesity through SOS, THI also facilitates learning partnerships through its management of the Mountain States Genetic Regional Collaborative, a regional effort that focuses on infant testing and the delivery of genetic services to disparate, urban and rural communities in an eight-state area in the Western United States.
Similarly, through a series of partnerships, THI is developing an oral health program that will result in an Oral Health Needs Index for disenfranchised communities within the Southern states. In partnership with the Texas Oral Health Coalition, THI has initiated Advancing the Oral Health Movement in Texas. This initiative was designed to address the interconnected challenges the current oral health system faces and to overcome related barriers with a multi-dimensional approach.
THI is also the lead organization in introducing the Annual County Health Rankings and Roadmap's Texas Report since it began seven years ago. Along with the Texas Association of City and County Health Officials and the Department of State Health Services, THI increases the awareness and importance of the rankings. With obesity being a focus of their work the last four years, THI hosts various webinars on reducing obesity as a means to improve an individual county's ranking.
THI and its partners will continue focusing on obesity in the years ahead, demonstrating its importance as a health measure to improve upon.