Welcome to Weighing In, the STOP Obesity Alliance blog – a new addition to our redesigned Web site.

This blog is a forum developed to facilitate discussion on key topics related to obesity and obesity-related diseases. And there are many topics to discuss!

Obesity continues to plague our nation and increasingly is the gateway to chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension. Patients, health care providers, employers, labor, government and insurance providers will all continue to be affected by the tremendous burden of this epidemic. As the STOP Obesity Alliance and its Steering Committee members continue our collaboration on efforts to take on this health crisis, we will take advantage of this forum to have an open dialogue with all of you.

Key contributors to Weighing In are STOP Obesity Alliance Steering Committee members, Christine Ferguson, the STOP Obesity Alliance Director and Dr. Richard H. Carmona, the Health and Wellness Chairperson of the Alliance.

Obesity GPS: A Guide for Policy and Program Solutions

The STOP Obesity Alliance Health & Wellness Chairperson, 17th U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard H. Carmona, facilitated a panel discussion for the launch of the Obesity GPS - featuring the Alliance's Director, Christine Ferguson, the American Medical Group Association's Julie Sanderson-Austin, and the American Heart Association's Dr. John Ring.

Blog: Weighing In
Impacting Health Care Reform

By Christine C. Ferguson, J.D.
Director, STOP Obesity Alliance

Impacting Health Care Reform

As Congress and the Administration get down to hammering out an agreement on health care reform, the list of issues and their impact on health care costs is staggering. President Obama is pushing for legislation from Congress by the end of August.  It seems unlikely the timeframe will be met, but there is great hope that they will reach agreement in the fall.  We know the Administration and Congress do realize that obesity is a major component of health care utilization and spending. How much they ultimately do about it is something else. 

Morgan Downey, the former head of The Obesity Society and a current policy advisor to the Alliance, has sent us a paper that raises a number of interesting issues and includes recommendations for health care reform vis-à-vis obesity. We invite you to read the paper located on the website here. As always, we welcome your comments either posted here or by emailing obesity@gwu.edu.

STOP Obesity Alliance Blog Comments
  1. Deirdre Pizzoferrato 3:59 pm - October 4th, 2009

    Mr. Downey presents a very thorough and well-executed paper addressing the present quagmire of obesity in our health care system.

    But what I noticed throughout his paper was the recurrent theme when it comes to finding solutions to the obesity epidemic: more treatment.

    While it would be absolutely beneficial that whatever bill is eventually drafted include many, if not all, of Mr. Downey’s recommendations about treating the present generation of obesity, it must also include recommendations for primary prevention for now, and more notably, future generations.

    The prevention I refer to is not what we have become accustomed to in our current health care system (i.e. diagnostic tests, screenings and surgical interventions, just to name a few) – but primary prevention. This would require involvement of both the government and private sectors.

    Mr. Downey was nearly there when he wrote about one of the “silos of the mind” of passing off the responsibility of the obesity epidemic on “personal responsibility”. This seems to be the easy scapegoat and goes to show how little we value wellness in our society. What if we passed education off on personal responsibility? Putting the sole responsibility onto parents to educate their children to the best of their abilities in Math, Science and English? And then giving children the decision whether or not to attend school, hoping that “personal responsibility” would innately kick-in? What would result, undoubtedly, would be a nation of illiteracy and ignorance. Our innovation would be stifled, our workforce drastically reduced and even our national security would be threatened. This is why by law, all children of compulsory school age (5 to 16) must receive a suitable full-time education. Education, unlike health and wellness, is viewed and valued as a “collective asset” to a productive society.

    But this is what we do when it comes to nutrition. Most parents of young children today are a few generations deep into the unhealthy eating habits and patterns that have fueled this epidemic. To expect these parents to take on the job of teaching their children how to make truly informed decisions about the foods they eat is not only unfair, but also improbable.

    What we need is to initiate a continuum of primary prevention – not secondary or tertiary prevention – but primary prevention that would require a collaborative effort on behalf of not just parents, but also doctors, teachers and communities. It would not begin in the Cardiologists’ office, but in the OB/GYNs office and with the help of Dietitians, begin educating women about the importance of nutrition before, during and after pregnancy. It would then continue to the pre-school years and with the involvement of Pediatricians and Dietitians and community Nutritionists.

    But in order to truly prevent “preventable diseases” will require knowledge, so the continuum must become integrated within our education system. No longer undermined as an overview of a confusing pyramid or simplified as a theme of the month, the science of nutrition, like any important science, must be integrated into the K-12 curriculum.

    Educating the masses on the science of nutrition will lead to more informed consumers, many of which will undoubtedly make healthier choices. And as a result of a society of educated consumers, we may see collateral changes in other big businesses besides just the health care industry. Informed consumers will demand more from our food industry, which may lead to more sustainable methods of how we grow, raise and process our food.

    It may take a generation or two before this continuum becomes full circle – when young woman enter into pregnancy with a healthy baseline due to healthy choices made from a foundation of knowledge – but it will be the only solution by which Americans can own their own health. Without it, future generations will remain in the same quagmire of depending on a “system” or a “plan” to acquire health.

    Deirdre Pizzoferrato
    Beanstalk Express

STOP Obesity Alliance Blog Comments