Jack Marsh in OAC Advocacy Training

Obesity Action Coalition: A Tipping Point for Advocacy

The Obesity Action Coalition has forged an impressive record since 2005 when Joe Nadglowski, Kristy Kuna, and James Zervios committed their careers to building the first and only nationwide membership organization to elevate and empower people affected by obesity. Yesterday, on the eve of OAC’s second annual convention in Phoenix, almost sixty people arrived early to equip themselves will essential skills to advocate for better public policy on obesity.

Are we nearing a tipping point?

A number of signs are encouraging. Consider some of the milestones since the Obesity Action Coalition started. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have steadily expanded coverage of obesity treatment services — first for obesity surgery and more recently for intensive behavioral therapy.New evidence-based treatments are once again entering the market for obesity. The American Medical Association finally conceded this summer that obesity is a complex chronic disease, not some sort of personal failure. And legal experts are warning employers that they can no longer discriminate with impunity against people who have obesity.

To be sure, none of this has happened in a vacuum. The Obesity Action Coalition has built bridges with professional groups devoted to obesity: the Obesity Society, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the American Society for Bariatric Physicians, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The united voice of these groups represents more than 100,000 people committed to reducing the impact of obesity. No doubt it’s a factor that makes it possible for Democrats and Republicans to unite in supporting the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2013.

Much work remains to be done. But progress is sweet.

Click here to read more about the Obesity Action Coalition convention and click here to read more about the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2013.

Jack Marsh in OAC Advocacy Training, photograph by Matt Gunther

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