Clear Eyes

Obesity Care Seen Through Fresh Eyes

In the ObesityWeek advocacy forum Tuesday, three speakers challenged advocates for obesity care to look at the issue of access to obesity care through fresh eyes.

Access to care has been typically framed as a health issue. But Jennifer Shinall of the Vanderbilt University Law School explained that a more productive approach might be to frame obesity as a women’s issue. This approach might be more productive, she explained, because obesity has a disproportionately negative effect on the health, economic, and social status of women. And by approaching obesity as a women’s issue, advocates could advance the cause of access to care through established legal solutions that protect women from discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Affordable Care Act. Shinall explained that this is true because discrimination based on weight is perfectly legal under current law. Discrimination based on gender is not legal and much more easily challenged under Federal law.

Likewise, Lloyd Stegemann challenged advocates to stop relying upon legislative and regulatory action to improve access to care, and instead to begin organizing behind a social movement to demand better access to care.

Finally, Joe Nadglowski suggested that we look at corporate wellness programs through fresh eyes to differentiate programs that aim to measurably enhance employee health from programs that aim to simply shift healthcare costs to employees.

Click here for Shinall’s presentation, here for Stegemann’s presentation, and here for Nadglowski’s presentation.

Clear Eyes, photograph © Dave Lawler / flickr

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November 4, 2015