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Expert Panel Will Address Obesity Health Policy and Wellness at 2013 Sapphire Awards and Symposium

February 4, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 23.5 million children and adolescents in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and wellness.

To address some of the most critical issues relevant to the national pandemic, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation (BCBSF Foundation) will convene a diverse panel of policy leaders and food and nutrition experts in Orlando, Fla. on Feb. 21 to explore the immediate and long-term effects childhood obesity can have on health and well-being.
The plenary will begin the BCBSF Foundation’s 2013 Sapphire Awards and Symposium, an annual, two-day event that recognizes innovation and excellence in community health.
Judith C. Rodriguez, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the  University of North Florida will moderate a panel that will include: Debbie I. Chang, M.P.H., vice president, Office of Policy and Prevention, Nemours; Robin C. Safley, director, Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Thaddeus Seymour, Jr., Ph.D., president, Lake Nona Institute, and senior vice president, Lake Nona; and Nathaniel Whitman, director, ChildObesity 180’s Active Schools Acceleration Project.

“We know the cornerstone of good health in America is our children,” said Susan Towler, vice president, BCBSF Foundation. “And our Foundation will continue to encourage open dialogue that supports efforts to help children lead healthier lives.” 

The Sapphire Awards and Symposium is scheduled Feb. 21-22, 2013, at The Peabody Hotel in Orlando, Fla. Since its inception, 45 health-focused nonprofits and individuals have been honored. 

To learn more and to register, visit

About the BCBSF Foundation
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation (BCBSF Foundation) is a separate, philanthropic affiliate of Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield company. The Foundation and its parent, Florida Blue, are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information about the BCBSF Foundation, please visit

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