Walt Medlin, Advocacy Training at YWM2014

Giving Voice to People Affected by Obesity

YWM2014The opening of the Obesity Action Coalition’s YWM2014 national convention featured national and local advocacy training to help people affected by obesity find their voice and bring needed change to policies and social norms that shape the quality of their lives.

A decade ago, people affected by obesity had no voice whatsoever in policy decisions that profoundly affected their lives. Health policy that addressed obesity was based more on bias against people with the disease than it was on objective evidence. The needs of people for treatment were largely ignored as FDA was erecting barriers to innovation and health plans were erecting barriers to accessing the limited treatment options already proven safe and effective.

In a review of the state of the OAC, CEO and President Joe Nadglowski made it clear how far we’ve come in a decade. The association has been able to reach the important milestone of 50,000 members this year. OAC has partnered with a host of the most important professional and commercial organizations that seek to address obesity. Many millions of people have been served through educational and public awareness programs of the OAC and its partners. Access to care is opening up — though much work remains to be done. Innovation and policy is starting to reflect the tremendous need for more treatment options.

Bias is no longer routinely accepted or ignored, much less encouraged as had been previously the case.

YWM2014 is now the third national convention OAC has sponsored and it’s already setting attendance records, with total registrations that are approaching 500. Unlike most national meetings, the goal of the meeting is not making money for the organization. The goal is to reach as many people as possible, and through sponsorships, keep it affordable. With a record number of sponsorships, OAC has been able to cut the cost of attendance at YWM2014 by about 75% versus the actual costs of the events and speakers that benefit the participants. And for the first time this year, OAC has been able to offer scholarships for people who would otherwise not have been able to attend.

ConscienHealth takes pride in its support for the Obesity Action Coalition, both as a member of the Chairman’s Council of sponsors, and through service to its Board of Directors. To all of the people and fine organizations who support OAC, thank you for making a difference. To all the members who make such a difference, congratulations on all you have done to build a better community and give voice to people affected by obesity.

For the latest updates on YWM2014, you can tune in to the OAC YouTube channel here, including live streams on Friday at 11:15am and Saturday at 9:15am EDT. You can follow the meeting on Twitter with the hashtag #YWM2014 and on Facebook here.

Walt Medlin, Advocacy Training at YWM2014, photograph © Obesity Action Coalition

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