CSG Special Policy Session: State Approaches to Obesity Reduction

State Approaches to Obesity Reduction
Thursday, September 19, 2013
The United States has a “growing” problem—an ongoing obesity crisis in both the young and old. This session offered a unique multidisciplinary approach to the problems. Panelists explored elements of the policymaking process that led to obesity programs in various states. Speakers discussed educational reforms, transportation developments, land use changes and food industry initiatives.


John Unger IIMajority Leader, West Virginia State Senate
Janet Collins, Ph.D., Associate Director for Program, Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  Download the Presentation: "Obesity Challenges and Solutions" in PDF (without audio) or as a Video (with audio).
Scott Kahan, M.D., M.P.H., Director, STOP Obesity Alliance
  Download the Presentation: "Considerations for State Obesity Policy" in PDF (without audio) or as a Video (with audio).
Harlan LevyGovernment Relations Director, McDonald's USA LLC
Deb Ridgway, M.S.W., Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator, Kansas City, Missouri
  Download the Presentation: "Bringing State and Federal Policies Local: The KC Story" in PDF (without audio) or as a Video (with audio).
Speaker Biographies:
John Unger II
Senator John R. Unger was elected to the West Virginia State Senate in 1998,  from Berkeley County, to represent the 16th Senatorial District and serve during the 75th Legislature. Since then, he has served as Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, during the 78th and 79th Legislatures; as Vice Chair of the Committee on Economic Development during the 79th Legislature; and as Vice Chair of the Commission on Interstate Cooperation, 78th Legislature. Senator Unger was re-elected in 2002, 2006, and 2010. Senator Unger was appointed Senate Majority Leader on January 12, 2011 by Acting Senate President Kessler. Born in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in 1969, to John Unger and Starlette J. Laughlin, he also, along with his legislative duties, is pursuing a Masters of Divinity at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. and serves as Vicar/Pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Harpers Ferry, WV. He resides in Martinsburg with his wife Cara, who is a teacher at Berkeley Heights Elementary School.
Janet Collins, Ph.D.
In January 2010, Janet Collins, PhD, was named Associate Director for Program in the Office of the Director, CDC, where she contributes to CDC program strategy, performance measurement and evaluation. Prior to her current position, she served as Director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) where she directed a diverse portfolio of programmatic and scientific initiatives in chronic disease prevention and control. Dr. Collins’ contributions as NCCDPHP Director include establishing the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and expanding the Center’s policy and community-based work on tobacco, nutrition, and obesity prevention and control.Dr. Collins earned her PhD in Educational Psychology from Stanford University.
Scott Kahan, M.D., M.P.H.
Scott Kahan, M.D., M.P.H. serves as the Director of the STOP Obesity Alliance, providing day-to-day coordination, counsel and oversight for the Alliance's ongoing research, writing and initiatives. Dr. Kahan is a physician trained in both clinical medicine and public health. He is board-certified in Preventive Medicine, and his clinical practice specializes in weight management and obesity medicine. He serves as Director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Kahan works as a public health physician specializing in obesity. He has been involved in numerous national and local initiatives pertaining to obesity, nutrition, and chronic disease prevention, and he has worked with Federal, state, and local governments, the National Institutes of Health, and several health advocacy groups.
Harlan Levy
Harlan E. Levy is the Director of Government Relations for the West Division of McDonald’s USA. He is responsible for overseeing a variety of legislative and regulatory issues which impact the McDonald’s System in fifteen western states. Harlan has been a government relations professional for over a decade representing the Oregon Association of REALTORS®, the National Federation of Independent Business and now McDonald’s. Prior to his work in government relations, Harlan was an attorney in private practice specializing in real estate law. Harlan received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School. Harlan is a native of Binghamton, New York and currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona.  He enjoys skiing, hiking, playing tennis and spending time with his family.
Deb Ridgway, M.S.W.
Deb Ridgway, M.S.W. is the Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator for Kansas City, Missouri and is a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals and American Public Works Association. She has been working with nonprofit organizations for 27 years on issues concerning transportation, social and environmental justice. She has provided consulting services to municipalities, nonprofits and professional associations. Ms. Ridgway holds a Master of Social Work degree from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri and both a Bachelor’s and Associate’s degree from Siena Heights University, Adrian, Michigan.