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Published in CenterView on November 25, 2013

Insurance company donates to obesity research center

J. Dave Butler, left, Mississippi Aflac sales coordinator, Sarah Nelson, community volunteer, and Dr. James Keeton, vice chancellor for health affairs, quack up during the presentation of a $500,000 donation by the insurance company to the Mississippi Center for Obesity Research Nov. 22.

Along with the financial gift, which will support Dr. John E. Hall, MCOR director, in building a team of basic, clinical and population scientists specializing in obesity, diabetes and related research, Aflac representatives brought a necktie patterned with the company’s signature duck.

“We owe a major debt of gratitude to our friends at Aflac for this generous commitment,” Keeton said. “It’s clear Aflac’s executives understand the disease burden and the economic toll that obesity is having – and will continue to have – on Mississippi and our nation.

“It is through the support of partners like Aflac that we’ll be successful in our goal of addressing the obesity crisis.”

Founded at UMMC in 2010, the Mississippi Center for Obesity Research, or MCOR, seeks to unravel the complex web of hows and whys surrounding obesity and its connections to other diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and hypertension.

Deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind appetite, metabolism, weight gain and maintenance could lead to better treatments and ways to prevent obesity. A multidisciplinary team can translate laboratory results into clinical uses that improve the health of patients, or take clinical observations and population-study findings into research labs for more detailed analysis.