Obesity Action Coalition Launches a Full-Court Press on the Obesity Epidemic
More than one-third of adults and nearly 17 percent of children in the United States are affected by the disease of obesity. Childhood obesity, in particular, has more than tripled in the past 30 years, and obesity-related diseases previously only seen in adults, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes, are increasingly being diagnosed in children.
Reversing these disturbing trends is on everyone's radar, including that of First Lady Michelle Obama. The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) has been doing its part to educate Americans about the consequences of obesity and to improve access to treatment, including bariatric surgery, since 2005.
What They Do and Why They Do It
The OAC actively advocates at both the state and federal levels to improve access to existing treatments and bolster the existing armamentarium. In addition, through its "Your Weight Matters"campaign, it strives to open up a dialogue between people affected by excess weight or obesity and the healthcare professionals who treat them. The group also aims to educate Americans on the risks associated with obesity — namely, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis and endometrial, breast and colon cancer.
"We are trying to ensure that there is support for coverage for the treatment of obesity and healthy food available for school lunches and that recess and physical education are more of a part of the school life," says OAC Chairperson Barbara Thompson, MLS.
"We can no longer say that being affected by excess weight or obesity is by choice," she says. "Nobody chooses this life."
Eating less and exercising more just doesn't cut it, according to Thompson. "In 95 percent of cases this doesn't work," she says. "What other disease is there where the cure fails 95 percent of the time?"
The issue is a personal one for Thompson, who had gastric bypass surgery 11 years ago. A lot has changed since then, including the advent of laparoscopic gastric banding with the Lap Band and Realize Band, and the OAC has been involved every step of the way.
"Our roots are in bariatric surgery, but we really recognize that we are not the Weight-loss surgery action coalition," says Thompson. "Weight-loss surgery is only one treatment option, and our main initiative is to make sure there is an entire toolbox available for people who are affected by the disease of obesity," she says.
The OAC is also working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help foster the development of new obesity drugs. In recent years, the FDA has blocked the approval of many weight-loss drugs due to concerns about their side effect profile and/or effectiveness. Another OAC agenda item is to work toward removing the stigma associated with obesity — particularly in children, among whom it can result in bullying.
The OAC exists on public donations. Your tax-deductible contribution can help with the organization's state and federal advocacy efforts as well as its educational and public awareness campaigns. Click here to donate.
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