Cape Neddick

Maine: Another State Works on Better Obesity Care

This chick hasn’t hatched. But the conversation is encouraging. Yesterday, Maine State Senator Nate Libby presented a bill in committee to reduce obesity and chronic disease rates in Maine by providing better obesity care.

LD 1162: “An Act To Reduce the Incidence of Obesity and Chronic Disease in Maine”

Specifically, Libby’s bill would provide better access to evidence-based obesity care for participants in MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program. It would open up the possibility for covering medical nutrition therapy by registered dietitians and for FDA-approved obesity treatment medications. Libby said:

This is a straightforward and fiscally sound policy for the state’s health insurance program. By making nutritional therapies and obesity treatment medications more affordable and accessible for people with MaineCare, we can help make people healthier, help them live longer, more productive lives and save money on treatments that they might have needed in the future for these preventable, chronic diseases.

Broad Support

Matija Burtis is Medical Director of Saint Mary’s Hospital’s Weight Management Program. On Friday, he spoke in favor of the bill:

We are limited in our ability to provide for our MaineCare patients, due to coverage restraints. Everyone in our state is deserving of evidenced based care, not just those with private insurance.

Also supporting the bill were the Maine Primary Care Association, the Maine Osteopathic Association, the Maine Hospital Association, the American Heart Association, the Maine Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Victoria Weeks Rogers, the Associate Director of the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight and the Medical Director of the 5120 Let’s Go! Program. Rogers said:

I think it is a major medical emergency in the state of Maine and nationally. I think you all know I work nationally on this issue.

“The state of Maine has carved out a peculiar place in American political life in recent years,” writes Evan Hughes in the New Yorker. The state is also blessed to have some smart people dedicated to good obesity care. It has not one, but two first-rate childhood obesity programs: the Way to Optimal Weight at EMMC and Countdown to a Healthy ME at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.

Maybe Maine will find a way forward. Obesity lies at the root of so many other chronic diseases. Healthcare costs for treating the complications of untreated obesity are spiraling out of control. Leaving obesity untreated while running up huge bills for its complications is insane.

Click here for more from Maine Public and here for more from state Senator Nate Libby.

Cape Neddick, photograph © NapaneeGal / flickr

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


April 15, 2017

4 Responses to “Maine: Another State Works on Better Obesity Care”

  1. April 15, 2017 at 12:00 pm, Allen Browne said:


    Thanks for the attention. It’s an important step if we can pull it off.

    I like the quote from Hughes about people from Maine – They’ll buy the boots if they like them and vote for whomever they want.”


    • April 15, 2017 at 4:58 pm, Ted said:

      Thanks for stepping up on this Allen. And thanks to Nancy for leading the way!

  2. April 17, 2017 at 1:54 pm, Dr Thomas Quinlan said:

    I think what Maine is doing is great. There needs to be a greater awareness of the issues facing society with an epidemic of obesity.

    However, I would like to comment on this idea that obesity is a “Disease”. There is a movement in the medical field to label obesity as a disease, which will tend for it to be approached with medications. Obesity, in my opinion, is not a disease. It is more of a problem with lifestyle meaning eating foods that are unhealthy, reductions in exercise and activity and declines in mental health and treatment.

    The tendency that has grown to see the issue of Obesity as a “disease” brings confusion as to treatment and curability. I believe obesity intervention with proper diet, exercise and positive mental health is a paper tiger. Obesity has not occurred in any other time of our society as it is now, therefore, it was not caused by a virus or a newly discovered “disease”. The issues lies in lifestyle and choices people make in their daily living.

    Dr Quinlan

    • April 17, 2017 at 4:44 pm, Ted said:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! Your opinions about obesity being simply a matter of lifestyle and choice are certainly common.

      While I can agree that lifestyle factors create a toxic environment for people who are biologically susceptible, I can’t agree that obesity is an epidemic of bad choices. It’s pretty clear that eating behaviors are more complex than simple conscious choices.

      Years and years of studies make it obvious to me that conscious choices are no match for a toxic environment and biological susceptibility.