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13th annual Southern Obesity Summit coming to Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 24, 2019) – The 13th Annual Southern Obesity Summit is coming to Oklahoma City October 28- 30, 2019. The Southern Obesity Summit (SOS) is the largest regional obesity prevention event in the United States, drawing hundreds of participants from 16 southern states.

Representatives from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia will gather to discuss progress in reducing obesity and strategies to fight obesity in southern states.

The summit is presented by the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) and the Texas Health Institute (THI) and will be held at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City. This year’s summit focuses on improving systems to promote healthy people and resilient communities. The 16 most southern states have some of the highest obesity rates in the United States, and the Southern Obesity Summit provides an educational and collaborative environment to fight obesity.

“The Southern Obesity Summit will bring together leadership from across the south to share, learn and develop strategies for positive change around obesity prevention,” said Julie Bisbee, executive director of TSET. “TSET is excited to partner with Texas Health Institute to bring the 13th Annual Southern Obesity Summit to Oklahoma City.”

Proposals are currently being accepted for presentations during breakout sessions on the following topics:

  • Healthy Eating and Food System Drivers
  • Active Living and Environmental Drivers
  • Game-changing Science and Medicine
  • Social Forces and Individual Psychology
  • Local Ecological Systems
  • Systems Approaches to State and National Policy Change

Summit organizers are also seeking sponsors and exhibitors from the conference.  For more information contact Sjonna Paulson at or Stephanie Ondrias at

The Southern Obesity Summit began with seed capital from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a spinoff project of the Southern Rural Access Program, a seven-year initiative to improve access to care. Texas Health Institute (THI) and Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) partnered to put on the inaugural SOS in Little Rock in 2007. The Southern Rural Access Program’s National Advisory Committee was led by former U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA.  

A few things to expect at the conference: 

  • The three-day conference offers networking opportunities, educational, inspiring and interactive breakout sessions, and combined state group activities.
  • Attendees will include policymakers, leaders from community-based organizations, federal, tribal and state government officials, public health practitioners, health care providers and nonprofit organizations. 

Hosting SOS in Oklahoma will have the added benefit of creating statewide conversations about obesity’s impact in Oklahoma and creating synergy among systems, organizations, communities and individuals in addressing Oklahoma’s obesity rate. 

The summit is expected to bring more than 400 attendees to Oklahoma City and will benefit the local economy with an impact of more than $170,000 over the three-day period, according to estimates from the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

More information on breakout topics and the Southern Obesity Summit overall can be found online at or by following the Southern Obesity Summit’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. The Southern Obesity Summit is currently accepting abstract submissions. Registration for the summit will open at the end of May. 


The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working across the state, cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. TSET. Better Lives Through Better Health.

The Texas Health Institute (THI) is a non-profit, non-partisan public health institute. Since 1964, THI has served as a trusted, leading voice on public health and healthcare issues in Texas and the nation. THI’s expertise, strategies, and nimble approach makes them an integral and essential partner in driving systems change efforts. THI works across and within sectors to lead collaborative efforts and facilitate connections to foster systems that provide the opportunity for everyone to lead a healthy life.