Activists, Patients, and Providers Confront an Epidemic

Think about a disease epidemic that people didn’t understand at first. We didn’t have good evidence-based treatment options, so a lot of energy went into blaming the patients. Way too many healthcare providers ignored the problem or shunned the patients. And health policy was based more on bias than evidence. It took activists, patients, and some dedicated healthcare providers to turn such a disaster around.

Activists, patients, and healthcare providers who are helping to confront the obesity epidemic were honored by the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) at the second annual Your Weight Matters Convention.

Melinda Watman has distinguished herself by confronting weight bias through her activism, writings, and testimony for the OAC. Recognizing her excellent work, OAC named Watman the Bias Buster of the Year.

Christopher Still was one of three people who conceived of the OAC eight years ago and has served the organization in every way possible ever since. OAC recognized Still as the Healthcare Provider Advocate of the Year.

The physicians of the St. Vincent Bariatric Center of Excellence sponsored more patients — 795 of them — to join the OAC in the last year than any other physicians. By doing so they earned the Dr. Blackstone Outstanding Member Recruitment Award.

Maria Caprigno not only took charge of her own health at the age of 14 and found treatment for obesity at Children’s National Medical Center, she also became a voice of advocacy for young people with obesity. She spoke up for treatment for young people with obesity at a time when policymakers wanted to ignore the subject and talk only about prevention. OAC presented Caprigno with the Barbara Thompson Award for advocacy.

Phoenix Councilman Daniel Valenzuela led the creation of FitPHX and other initiatives to help the people of Phoenix achieve their personal wellness goals. For his work in the host city for the convention, OAC honored Valenzuela as Community Leader of the Year.

Robert Kushner, past president of the Obesity Society, was not content with outstanding service to his scientific society. He has served for three years now as a most active member of the OAC Board of Directors. Chairing the education committee and co-chairing the program committee for the convention, he has done much to empower people with obesity through education. OAC honored his work with the OAC Chairman’s Award.

Walter Medlin is a patient, a provider, and a tireless advocate who has served OAC in every way he could — writing educational materials, sponsoring his patients as OAC members, and educating policymakers in Washington. By serving OAC in so many ways, Medlin distinguished himself as Member of the Year, OAC’s highest award.

Click here, here, here, here, here, here, and here to read more about each of the award winners.

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August 19, 2013