The Aetna Foundation today announced its support of an international symposium on reducing the global health burden of chronic disease and improving overall health and wellness slated to take place at the New York Academy of Medicine in New York City on Monday and Tuesday, September 23-24, 2013. The symposium, Obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases: Learning from International Experiences, brings together notable international experts on obesity and non-communicable diseases and will address both social and societal determinants of these issues. Hosted by the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) and its policy group the International Obesity TaskForce (IOTF), the symposium is representing a broad range of perspectives, including public health, advocacy, nonprofit and private sector organizations from around the world. With funding from the Aetna Foundation, IASO created the event in response to the United Nations global mandate to find solutions to reduce the overall health burden of chronic disease. The symposium will focus on real-world interventions and community strategies already making a positive impact on a wide range of wellness issues. In particular, the program will spotlight ways to engage young people in creating positive changes that can diminish the increasing burden of non-communicable disease among today’s youth. “We need to address the global health crisis stemming from the human and economic burden of non-communicable diseases. Collaboration from all sectors of society is essential to effect positive change,” said Garth Graham, M.D., M.P.H., president of the Aetna Foundation. “By focusing this symposium on concrete solutions that are already improving the lives of young people, we hope this week’s dialogue will help accelerate a shift toward wellness and set a better foundation for disease prevention for future generations. We are pleased to support IASO in bringing together many of the best minds working on this issue.” The two-day symposium will host a number of global experts, including Aetna Foundation grantees, and will include wellness topics spanning from challenges in tackling obesity in a diverse population to reshaping agriculture for better nutrition. Target areas of discussion also include marketing, economics, social and behavioral health and policy. The event will feature specialists from the United States and overseas as speakers, including Francesco Branca, Ph.D., director of nutrition for health and development, World Health Organization, and Simon Barquera, M.D., Ph.D., Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health. According to the World Health Organization, non-communicable disease, also known as chronic disease, results in more than 36 million deaths each year, a number that is expected to increase by 15 percent globally between 2010 and 2020. Non-communicable diseases do not pass from person to person, but progress slowly and persist over a long duration. The four main types are cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and stroke; cancers; chronic respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma; and diabetes.