sodaMore than 13,000 public health professionals are in Washington, D.C. to discuss today’s top health challenges facing the country and the pivotal role local communities play in preventing disease, promoting health and reducing health disparities.

The American Public Health Association’s 139th Annual Meeting, which runs through tomorrow, features some of the nation’s most influential health champions, researchers and practitioners presenting the latest public health science and trends at nearly a thousand sessions on significant public health issues, including implementation of the Affordable Care Act, public health impact of climate change, obesity, transportation and health, mental health disparities and other major health topics.

The 2011 Annual Meeting is themed “Healthy Communities Promote Healthy Minds and Bodies” and focuss on the importance of building strong, healthy and safe communities to achieve health and the challenges and opportunities for the public health community to ensure disease prevention and health promotion efforts reach all communities.

The range of informational sessions open to attendees reflects longstanding public health concerns ("Alcohol's Burden on the Community") as well as more recent developments ("Sugar-Sweetened Websites: How the Soda Industry Targets Young People Online").

Other presentations include:

• From Research to Practice in Construction: A New National Initiative. Featured presentation: Lifetime risk of occupational injuries and illnesses among construction workers

• The Biology, Marketing and Politics of Sugar-sweetened Beverages: How Communities can Protect Young People from a Significant Public Health Threat

• Adverse Drug Reactions: Extent of Public Health Risks. Featured presentation by Senator Bernie Sanders: The Medical Innovation Prize Fund Act: How De-linking R&D Incentives from Prices Will Deliver Safer, More Effective Drugs at Significantly Lower Prices

• Promoting Active Living Through the Built Environment: Planning, Policy, and Evaluation. Featured presentation: Assessing the Statewide Environment for Pedestrians and Cyclists

• The School Food Environment: A Closer Look at Competitive Foods and Beverages. Featured presentation: Milk consumption in schools offering plain milk only versus schools offering plain and flavored milk

• Vaccine Preventable Disease Epidemiology. Featured presentation: How many California children are exposed to high school-level rates of personal belief exemptions from childhood vaccines?

• The Bars, Booze, and Butts: the Interplay of Alcohol and Tobacco