SPOKANE, Wash. — Obesity, recognized as a major health problem in our nation and in our community, will be the subject of a public presentation from 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Deaconess Health and Education Center, Room 267.

“Body Mass Index (BMI) Obesity Project: What Is It and Where Is It Going” is the topic of a presentation by the Health Leaders Group. The group is co-sponsored by Washington State University Spokane’s graduate program in health policy and administration and the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce Health Care Committee. Dr. Deb Harper, president of the Spokane County Medical Society, chairs the Health Leaders Group steering committee.

Both local and national health experts see obesity as a looming public health problem with a price tag in the billions of dollars. The Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce has recognized it as a problem for employers, because obesity decreases productivity and increases sick time. In addition, the Spokane County Medical Society points out that obesity is becoming more common in young people, and is increasing the diabetes rate in younger groups.

As a result, the Chamber of Commerce and the Spokane County Medical Society have begun the BMI project. This project has initially focused on getting information about obesity moved into the primary care setting so that patients can understand the importance of prevention. BMI is an indicator of potential health risks, based on an adult’s weight, height and total body fat.

Dr. Ken Cathcart, endocronologist, and chair of the Spokane County Medical Society Task Force on Obesity, will outline the purpose, plan and next steps for the project.

Paul Turner of the Spokesman Review will present his experience in reducing his weight and increasing his overall health over the past year.

The graduate program in health policy and administration at WSU Spokane prepares health services managers with the knowledge, skills, and values to exercise professional leadership to promote healthier communities. Program information online: www.hpa.spokane.wsu.edu, or contact Kylie Schenk, academic coordinator, 509/358-7987, hpa@wsu.edu.