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Rear Admiral Dr. Steven K. Galson Articulates Top U.S. Health Priorities

STONY BROOK, N.Y., May 9, 2008 – Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., Acting Surgeon General of the United States, and a Stony Brook University alumnus, Class of 1978, returned to SBU on May 1 and delivered an address titled "Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future." Dr. Galson’s lecture centered on the importance of preventing childhood overweight and obesity in communities nationwide. His presentation was part of a one-day tour of the campus and time with faculty, staff, and students.

As Surgeon General, Dr. Galson is the nation's top physician health educator. He has served in this position since October 2007 and is responsible for communicating the best science, evidence, and data to the American people in order for them to make healthy choices that impact their health, safety and security. A major aspect of educating the public on healthy choices is Dr. Galson's Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future Initiative. This program focuses on recognizing communities throughout the United States that are coming together to address childhood overweight and obesity by encouraging kids to eat right and exercise.

While Dr. Galson, a native of upstate New York, returned to SBU to see the progress that the University and Medical Center has made since his graduation, he specifically recognized the progress of the institution in combating the childhood obesity epidemic. Last fall, the Department of Family Medicine received a $1.33 million grant from the New York State Department of Health to create a Center for Best Practices to Prevent and Reduce Childhood Obesity. The Center works with healthcare professionals in the region to prevent obesity as early as possible by counseling, screening and preventing obesity in pregnant woman and infants.

"One of our top priorities is reducing childhood overweight and obesity, which is at epidemic proportions and cuts across socioeconomic, geographic, and racial and ethnic differences throughout the country," said Dr. Galson. "We can begin to tackle this epidemic by taking a look at what each of us can do in our lives and communities."

He pointed out that more than 12.5 million, or 17 percent, of American children and adolescents 2 to 19 years of age are overweight and therefore at greater risk for developing cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes as they age. To reduce these national statistics on childhood obesity, the Surgeon General initiative aims to work with healthcare institutions, community based organizations, educators, and many other groups to find ways to make sure children to stay active, encourage healthy eating habits, and promote healthy choices.

Dr. Galson also discussed other national health priorities as signified by the Office of the Surgeon General. Among these priorities are for the United States to shift from a "treatment" society to a disease "prevention" society; to secure public health preparedness, as in preparing for possible health emergencies like a pandemic flu outbreak; the elimination of health disparities in communities, and improving health literacy of the population.

Dr. Galson received his Baccalaureate Degree from Stony Brook University in 1978. He received an M.D. Degree from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in 1983, and an M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1990. He began his Public Health Service career as an epidemiological investigator at the Centers for Disease Control and has previously held senior level positions at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., Acting Surgeon General of the United States, center, and a 1978 graduate of Stony Brook University, returned to the University to address faculty and students. Pictured with Dr. Galson, are, from left: Richard N. Fine, M.D., Dean, Stony Brook University School of Medicine; Shirley Strum Kenny, President, Stony Brook University; Humayun Chaudhry, M.D., Suffolk County Health Commissioner, and K. Aletha Maybank, M.D., Director of the Office of Minority Health, Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

Photo credit: Jeanne Neville, Media Services, Stony Brook University
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