Symposium comprises discussions on environmental health, food security, local farming, childhood obesity – and much more

March 26, 2012


Dr. Roni Neff of the Bloomberg School of
Public Health will deliver the keynote address at
the March 30 "Healthy Eating" symposium."

If you thought that healthy eating is having a balanced diet, you may want to expand your thinking.

Researchers and nutrition experts from the University of South Carolina and statewide organizations will gather Friday, March 30, at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center for the second annual symposium, "Healthy Eating in Context: Local Solutions, Global Challenges."

The program, beginning at 8:30 a.m., will address a variety of topics, including a call for plant-based diets, the societal impact of living in a "warmer world," methylmercury exposure from eating rice, the economic impact of the "Certified South Carolina Grown Campaign," empowering Latinos to prevent childhood obesity -- and much more.

Dr. Roni Neff of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, one of the nation's leading experts on nutrition and food systems, will deliver the keynote address, titled "A Healthy Environment Is Our Food Security."

An assistant scientist in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Neff is the research and policy director at the Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has a joint appointment in Health Policy and Management.

The Center for a Livable Future is an academic center focused on the connections among diet, food production, environment and public health. Neff oversees policy programs for the center, and she is developing an edited textbook on food systems and public health.

Frequently called upon by the national media for her expertise on a variety of topics related to nutrition and food systems, Neff is interested in food and ecological concerns (climate change, peak oil, soil); public health and agricultural policy (especially the Farm Bill); and access to sustainably produced and healthy food. She also is interested in occupational injury and illness, with a focus on underreporting, disparities and federal policy.

The Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities at the Arnold School of Public Health, which includes more than 40 affiliated scholars throughout the University, is collaborating with USC's Environment and Sustainability Program to host the symposium, which ushers in Public Health Week, April 2 - 8.

The program will begin with remarks by Dr. Angela Liese, director of the Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, and Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti, USC vice president for research.

About the Symposium

  • Session One, "The Grand Challenges for Healthy Eating in Context," will be introduced by Ed Taylor of Indian Ridge Farms. Presentations will be made by Dr. Brie Turner-McGrievey, affiliated scholar and assistant professor in the Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School; Dr. Brian Helmuth, director of USC's Environment and Sustainability Program; and Dr. Kevin Elliott, affiliated scholar and associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Dr. Jim Burch, an associate professor in the Arnold School's Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, will give the introduction for Session Two, "Methylmercury and the Health of People, Plants, and Planet." Presentations will be made by Dr. Jennifer Nyland, assistant professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, USC School of Medicine; Dr. Sarah Rothenberg, affiliated scholar and assistant professor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences; and Dr. Suzanne McDermott, professor, Family and Preventive Medicine, USC School of Medicine.
  • "Local Solutions: South Carolina's Local Food Movement" is the title of Session Three and will feature an introduction by Dr. David Hughes, program leader, Economic and Community Development, Clemson University. Presenters will be Dr. Lisa Turansky, Sustainable Agriculture Program director, Coastal Conservation League; Dr. Yenory Hernandez, Food, Nutrition & Packaging Science, Clemson University; and Dr. Doug Woodward, director of the Division of Research, Economics, Moore School of Business.
  • Session Four will be "Building Healthy Food Environments through Community Partnerships." Dr. Sonya Jones, deputy director of the Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, will give introductory remarks. Presenters, all from the Arnold School of Public Health, will be Dr. Edith Williams, affiliated scholar and deputy director of the Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities; Dr. Myriam Torres, affiliated scholar and director of the Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies; and Dr. Michael Beets, affiliated scholar and assistant professor in the Department of Exercise Science.
  • Dr. Ed Frongillo, chair of the Arnold School's Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior and affiliated scholar, will deliver the closing remarks on "Food Security in a World of Changing Environments and Human Actions."

The program will include a scientific poster session and community exhibits.

  • How to attend
    Registration after the March 23 deadline and walk-ins will be accepted as space allows, and symposium materials will be distributed as available. The registration fee for faculty and staff is $25; $10 for students and community members. The cost includes lunch and a registration packet.

Visit for more information or contact Dr. Holly Pope Dr. Holly Pope, Director of Communications, Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities at, 803.556.1122.

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