Deneen Vojta, M.D., and Richard Smith, M.D., two of UnitedHealth Group’s leading chronic disease experts, will address the 25th Anniversary Nobel Peace Prize Forum, March 8-10 at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.
Dr. Vojta, senior vice president of the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization and chief clinical officer of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance, and Dr. Richard Smith, director of the UnitedHealth Chronic Disease Initiative, will participate in the forum’s first-ever “Science and Health Day” Saturday, March 9. Their presentation, “Diabesity: Disease Gone Global,” will consider the “diabesity” dilemma – the clinical and behavioral chain that leads from childhood obesity to prediabetes to type 2 diabetes – from a global perspective.
Diabetes is one of the greatest health and economic challenges of the 21st century, with more than 350 million people worldwide living with the disease, a figure that is expected to rise to more than 550 million within 20 years, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Vojta and Smith will describe concepts for successful global strategies to address this most pressing public health and economic crisis, including community-based programs that have been clinically proven to help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
“It is a great honor to speak at this year’s 25th Anniversary Nobel Peace Prize Forum,” said Vojta. “The timing of this conference is critical, since the world’s diabesity epidemic is evolving from a significant public health issue to one that, if gone unchecked, poses a true threat to global prosperity.”
Smith said: “We are grateful for the opportunity to address the Nobel Peace Prize Forum and help draw attention to a true global pandemic. The prevalence of prediabetes and diabetes has increased dramatically over the past two decades on a parallel track with the global increase in obesity and unsustainable lifestyles.”
“We created Science and Health Day because these topics are integral to peace,” said Dr. Maureen Reed, executive director of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. “Good health exists only under stable conditions. Serious disease and chronic medical conditions can block economic progress and drain the coffers of even the most stable regions. We are holding this meeting to help today’s health professionals understand the global nature of health, disease, peace and conflict.”
United Health Foundation is a sponsor of the three-day forum, which has the distinction of beingthe Norwegian Nobel Institute’s only program or academic affiliation outside Norway. The forum will feature presentations by Nobel Laureates Tawakkol Karman and Muhammad Yunus, among other notable figures from the worlds of global philanthropy, politics, business, health and science.
Yunus is a Bangladeshi banker who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his efforts to create economic and social development through microcredit, and Karman was honored as a co-recipient of the 2011 prize recognizing her work during the Arab Spring. She is the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman, only the second Muslim woman, and the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate to date.
Vojta leads clinical research and development at UnitedHealth Group, identifying innovative solutions that address global health care challenges and partners to bring these solutions to scale. Most recently, she spearheaded UnitedHealth Group’s partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the YMCA of the USA to scale the U.S. National Diabetes Prevention Program, led the design and study of a scalable child obesity intervention, and partnered with Comcast to disseminate technology delivering health care in the home through a reality television version of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a clinically proven lifestyle change program that can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent in people with prediabetes.
Smith directs the UnitedHealth Chronic Disease Initiative, which works with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (one of the National Institutes of Health) to fight heart disease and diabetes through the support of a global network of 11 Centers of Excellence in developing countries. He formerly served as a television doctor and was editor of the British Medical Journal.
About the Nobel Peace Prize Forum
The Nobel Peace Prize Forum is a unique civic learning experience. Each year, this dynamic, global event brings Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, civic leaders and scholars together with students and other citizens. As the Norwegian Nobel Institute’s only such program or academic affiliation outside of Norway, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum has a special mission: to inspire and engage students and citizens to become full participants in peacemaking efforts around the world.
The Forum pays homage to Norway’s international peace efforts and offers opportunities for Nobel Peace Prize laureates, diplomats, scholars and the general public to share in dialogue on the dynamics of peacemaking and the underlying causes of conflict and war. The Forum also features the annual Nobel Peace Prize Festival, a day of programming for youth.
The 2012 Forum was hosted by Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN, in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School for Public Affairs (view the event pages, including a video archive). The initiative is also sponsored by the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, Pacific Lutheran University, the University of St. Thomas, and four Midwestern colleges of Norwegian heritage (Augustana, Concordia, Luther, and St. Olaf colleges) who have all hosted the Forum in years past.
The roots of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum are wide and deep. Since the very first event in 1989, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum’s stimulating array of programs have involved over 21,000 participants and received national and regional media coverage. 2013 will mark its 25th anniversary.
About United Health Foundation
Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of communities. After its establishment by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $200 million to improve health and health care. For additional information, please visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org.
About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making health care work better. With headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two business platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. Through its businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves more than 80 million people worldwide. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com.
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