Q&A with Lexi Nolen, Panelist on “Health in All Policies”

5/24/2011 – Childhood Obesity Conference


Dr. Jennifer WolchLexi Nolen, director at the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Center to Eliminate Health Disparities, will contribute to our Community Nutrition and Physical Activity Track. Her work includes community-based research and interventions as well as policy development on issues of health disparities and public health. As a speaker in the mini-plenary session, “Health in All Policies: A Good Solution Solves Multiple Problems,” Dr. Nolen will offer insight on social determinants of health and advocacy strategies for health equity. Read on for our Q&A session with Dr. Nolen.


Childhood Obesity Conference: What challenges, achievements or new goals can you share about your work in obesity prevention?


Dr. Nolen: My work involves a holistic community development approach to disaster recovery, including consideration of the impact of disasters on childhood obesity as well as other health issues. We have undertaken work on GIS-based Health Impact Assessment as a strategy both for identifying priorities and sensitizing the community to social determinants of health.


COC: What advice do you have for others working to advance the “health in all policies” concept?


Dr. Nolen: Community sensitization and conversation, and combining top-down and bottom-up approaches, underpinned with quality research, are essential to effective community change.


COC: What first brought you to this area of work?


Dr. Nolen: I worked internationally as the coordinator of the Global Equity Gauge Alliance, then on the secretariat of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health. When I returned to the United States, I hoped to apply my experience to a domestic context. Little did I know that Hurricane Ike would redefine Galveston, Texas, six months after I arrived…


COC: What do you think is the most promising development in obesity prevention today?


Dr. Nolen: The multi-sectoral approach (if not inter-sectoral approach) that is developing, and the level of public attention to the issue from community to federal government.


COC: What are you hoping to learn at the Childhood Obesity Conference?


Dr. Nolen: I hope to stimulate my brain by being around smart people doing the work in ways I haven’t thought of.



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