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Panelist Bio


Melinda S. Sothern, PhD
Associate Professor and Director of Health Promotion LSU-HSC School of Public Health

Melinda S. Sothern, PhD is an Associate Professor of Research and directs the Section of Health Promotion in the Division of Behavioral and Community Health in the Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center, School of Public Health and the Prevention of Childhood Obesity Laboratory at the LSU Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Her research has been widely published in scientific journals and recently edited a scientific textbook, The Handbook of Pediatric Obesity: Clinical Management (Taylor and Francis, 2006), and co-authored a book for parents and pediatricians entitled Trim Kids (2001, Harper Resource, NY, NY). She is currently serving as Principal Investigator on two National Institute of Health (NIH)-sponsored studies entitled, Insulin Sensitivity in Children with Low Birth Weight and Exploring Mechanisms of the Metabolic Syndrome in African American and Caucasian Youth. She is also currently a co-investigator in the NIH-sponsored, 6-year study entitled, Increasing Physical Activity Patterns in Adolescent Girls: the TAAG Study, with seven other sites nationwide, directs the physical activity intervention of the NIH-sponsored study, Environmental Approaches for the Prevention of Weight Gain: The Wise Mind Study, and is Co-PI and mentor of two other NIH-funded studies: 1) Environmental Determinants of Physical Activity in Parks, and 2) Training translational researchers in Louisiana (COBRA). Dr. Sothern also serves as consultant to several NIH funded studies including, a school based study entitled, LA Health at the LSU PBRC.

Dr. Sothern recently co-authored a position paper and serves as faculty for the American Dietetic Association pediatric weight management certification program. She is considered a national spokesperson for overweight youth and has been featured extensively in national and international television, radio and print media including: Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN International, Fox News TV, 48 Hours, Nicolodeon TV, The Oprah Show, Discovery Channel, CNN International, Yorkshire TV British Broadcasting Co., USA Today, Associated Press - World News, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Parents Magazine, Parenting, Better Homes and Garden, Prevention Magazine and many others.

Dr. Sothern has led her field in establishing standardized guidelines for prescribing exercise for children with increasing levels of obesity and is best known for her work in promoting active play as a means of preventing and treating childhood obesity. She has been a member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the NAASO: The Obesity Society for more than fifteen years, is a fellow and council member of The Obesity Society and currently serves as Past Chairman of the Pediatric Obesity Interest Group. She is also past member of the Obesity Society Public Affairs Committee and current member of the Publication and Education Committee and is a scientific presenter for The Obesity Society Distinguished Lecture Series. Dr. Sothern is a member of the American Heart Association/Clinton Foundation Advisory Board. She has provided over 100 invited scientific lectures to universities and medical centers, is a reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and numerous pediatric, obesity and exercise scientific journals and provides scientific advice to several major national and international corporations.

Current Topic


05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Special Presentation


12/15 - Election 2015: An Analysis

What strategies did each of the major candidates use during the Governor's race?

Special Presentation


Breaking Away:  A Louisiana Public Square Special Presentation

Would the breakaway City of St. George quash Baton Rouge’s school desegregation progress?

Coming Soon!


06/16 - Symbol or Statement? History in Public Spaces (encore)

Is the display of Civil War statues in public justified or do they belong only in museums?

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How is Louisiana tackling this serious addiction epidemic?


03/16 - Justice on Hold: Louisiana’s Public Defender Shortage

How serious of a problem is the shortage of public defenders in Louisiana?


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How will the lives of those who now have access to health care change?


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What happens when police and the people they arrest have different versions of their encounters?

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