Ted Kyle, Chair of the Advocacy Committee for The Obesity Society, reflects on the most important developments of 2012 for obesity. He credits the George Washington University Department of Health Policy with helping shift focus toward obesity and health and away from weight loss outcomes through dialogue with experts, advocates, and the FDA.
Myths, misconceptions and misinformation about obesity and weight remain pervasive. These can make an already difficult task – managing weight and health – even more challenging and can fuel weight stigma, which is as pervasive in our society as the myths themselves. Click here to read more.
View Dr. Richard H. Carmona’s, 17th U.S. Surgeon General and the Alliance’s Health and Wellness Chairperson, letter of support for the Essential Health Benefits Task Force recommendations here.
New! The latest installment of the “Weight and the States” bulletin is now available. In this issue, the STOP Obesity Alliance’s research team at The George Washington University finds as states move in 2013 and work towards putting health reform into place, there is still a lack of coverage for obesity intervention services. The researchers also found some states are working towards streamlining their obesity prevention efforts.
Click here to view the bulletin.
This installment of the “Weight and the States” bulletin helps state leaders in processing the impact of the Medicaid expansion decision on coverage for obesity prevention and treatment. We compiled information about where states currently stand on Medicaid expansion, what factors are important to states when considering whether or not they will expand eligibility, and current coverage for obesity prevention and treatment.
Click here to view charts depicting Medicaid Fee-for-Service Treatment of Obesity Interventions in the U.S. by state.
Click here to view the bulletin.
The second installment of the “Weight and the States” bulletin continues the conversation the Alliance began in 2011 surrounding essential health benefits (EHB) and obesity, but shifts its focus to support states that are working to design their own EHB packages. Based on national recommendations the STOP Obesity Alliance EHB Task Force released in 2011, this bulletin examines how states might consider obesity when making the tough decisions about what to include. Click here to view the bulletin.
The first 2012 installment of the “Weight and the States” bulletin examines the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) list of small-group health plans, which determine coverage benchmarks for states’ essential health benefits packages. The George Washington University research team and Obesity Care Continuum, a coalition of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, Obesity Action Coalition and The Obesity Society, examined what coverage is available in these plans for obesity prevention and intervention, including bariatric surgery and weight-loss programs, in each state.
Click here to see detailed information about each top-three small employer plan in each state.
Click here to view the bulletin.
Using legislative databases and news sources, the final 2011 installment of the “Weight and the States” reviews obesity prevention, treatment and other initiatives in states. The bulletin identifies five trends in state legislative proposals and initiatives focusing on obesity and weight-related chronic disease including: obesity surveillance and tracking, state employee and Medicaid wellness programs, proposed modifications to the modifications to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), food and beverage taxes and state employee benefit plan coverage uncertainties. Click here to view the bulletin.
The second installment of the “Weight and the States” bulletin focuses on the Alliance’s Obesity GPS. The Obesity GPS is a tool policymakers can use to guide development or evaluation of obesity-related policies and programs. The bulletin includes examples of how the Obesity GPS can be used through a review of existing wellness incentive programs in four states: Florida, West Virginia, Rhode Island and Idaho. Click here to view the bulletin.
The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services Department of Health Policy released a report in September 2010 titled, “A Heavy Burden: The Individual Costs of Being Overweight and Obese in the United States,” revealing the high costs of obesity to individuals in the United States. The research takes into account costs related to medical care, absenteeism from work, short-term disability, lost productivity and the need for extra gasoline, and found that the annual cost of being obese is $4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man. The data included in the report, coupled with the widely reported societal costs of obesity, highlight the enormity of the financial impact of the epidemic to the individual and underscores the critical need for policies that focus on prevention and treatment for those who are already obese.
Since every state faces different needs when it comes to addressing its own public health concerns, there are a plethora of different directions they are taking to implement health reform. How states will tackle obesity and weight-related chronic diseases is no exception. To allow for more effective tracking of implementation, The George Washington University research team for the STOP Obesity Alliance conducted a first of its kind state-by-state analysis of the landscape of coverage for the prevention and treatment of obesity and related conditions. The charts are a baseline compilation of data on how these conditions are addressed in state Medicaid programs, state employee health benefit plans, and state insurance mandates for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The health reform legislation passed earlier this year includes provisions to address some of the devastating impacts of obesity in America – on adults and children. The George Washington University research team for the STOP Obesity Alliance conducted an analysis of the health reform legislation to assess initiatives and policies targeting obesity this year and beyond.
Click here to read the complete analysis of health reform legislation.
The obesity crisis in the United States has led to devastating health consequences and skyrocketing costs. Even with increased awareness of the obesity epidemic, the nation lacks coordinated and effective efforts to identify and remove systemic and cultural barriers that interfere with individuals’ weight loss success.
On March 16, 2010, the STOP Obesity Alliance research team at The George Washington University released a white paper based on outcomes of an expert roundtable that examined innovative approaches to help address obesity in the primary care setting. The paper outlines five areas to explore to improve the treatment of obesity in primary care:
- Monitoring weight, health indicators and risk;
– Assessing patient motivation;
– Defining success;
– Increasing integration and care coordination; and
– Implementing electronic medical records.
This year’s focus on health reform offers an opportunity to address the prevalence of obesity in America. Recognizing that obesity is a significant contributor to the nation’s health care challenges, the STOP Obesity Alliance believes that health reform should tackle obesity head-on. The George Washington University research team for the STOP Obesity Alliance conducted a side-by-side comparison to assess what the current, proposed health reform legislation does to address obesity and to identify key ways in which the legislation could improve.
Click here to read the most up to date side-by-side analysis.
This ongoing analysis helped inform health reform policy recommendations released by the Alliance in September that centered on the following areas:
This year’s focus on health reform offers an opportunity to address the prevalence of obesity in America. Recognizing that obesity is a significant contributor to the nation’s health care challenges, the STOP Obesity Alliance believes that health reform should tackle obesity head-on. The George Washington University research team for the STOP Obesity Alliance conducted a side-by-side analysis to assess what the current, proposed health reform legislation does to address obesity and to identify key ways in which the legislation could improve.
This analysis helped inform health reform policy recommendations released by the Alliance in September that center on the following areas:
Click here to read the side-by-side comparison. This document will be updated periodically as the current proposals progress through the approval process.
By Christine Ferguson, J.D., Sarah Kornblet, J.D., M.P.H., and Anna Muldoon
Women’s Health Issues Sept/Oct 2009 – Invited Commentary
Obesity has been getting a lot of attention these days. As the relationship between obesity and diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers has become clearer, the economic and social imperative to aggressively attack obesity has intensified. Obese individuals face multiple forms of prejudice and discrimination because of their weight. Although there is a negative bias toward obese people in general, several studies have examined gender differences in perceived stigma and quality of life among obese patients, with most studies finding women experiencing significantly more negative social and psychological effects from obesity.
Please click here to download the full text of the commentary.
By Morgan Downey, JD
Obesity is a major public health problem and is growing in prevalence and severity. Projections indicate continued growth with strong gender, race and ethnic differences. Morbid obesity is also increasing significantly. Many obstacles have persisted which have impeded effective public policies to address the issue. Health care reform presents unparalleled opportunities to change the approaches to obesity in a way to positively improve individual and public health. Simple solutions will not be adequate; rather, a complete integration of evidence-based interventions into the nation’s health care system is required. Costs will be significant, yet the costs of inaction will be greater. Recommendations are offered for the integration of obesity prevention and intervention measures.
“Review of Obesity Related Legislation & Federal Programs” is a research report created by the George Washington University research team for the STOP Obesity Alliance that provides an overview of federally funded programs created with obesity prevention as the main objective, as well as relevant proposed federal legislation submitted in the 110th and 111th Congressional sessions. The federal programs overview is divided between children and adults, and further subdivided into categories of nutrition, physical activity, and other, depending on the aim of the program. Appendix A is a detailed table outlining more specific information about the programs and legislation put forth in the research report.
Affecting nearly two-thirds of adults, overweight and obesity is one of the most significant public health threats facing America. This research for the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance* authored by the Department of Health Policy at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services examines what may contribute to the disconnect between the scientific data demonstrating the harmful health and economic effects of overweight and obesity and the insufficient action to change the public and private sector systems that form barriers against effective weight management.
The report focuses on three interconnected dimensions of this issue that, with greater understanding and awareness, could lead to action with profound effects on the obesity epidemic in America: 1) how success is defined; 2) the perception that treatment is futile; and 3) the stigma against people who are overweight or obese.
While science proves the seriousness of overweight and obesity and its link to deadly conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, there is no consensus today among patients, providers and researchers on what constitutes successful weight loss. As described in this paper, overweight and obese people and their health care providers often have unrealistic weight-loss goals and very few succeed in achieving them. Promoting a more realistic approach that is based on improving health outcomes could be critical to changing obesity’s hold on our society.
Another major barrier in the prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity is the perception or assumption that nothing works. When the effort required to treat overweight and obesity by the patient and physician is assessed alongside the results of what both professionals and consumers view as only modest amounts of weight loss, treatments seem hardly worth the effort. This sense of futility can be overcome by focusing on sustainable and realistic step-wise results.
Stigma against people with overweight and obesity is another pervasive trend and a reality for the lives of people with overweight and obesity. Research shows that as obesity increases in prevalence, so does stigma against the overweight and obese. Unquestionably, the role and responsibility of the individual is critical to successful weight loss and without it, lessening obesity will be unachievable. An emphasis on personal responsibility alone has not been enough to curb the epidemic. This paper is designed to highlight other factors within our health care system and health policies that shape the environment for individual action and could encourage addressing obesity.
The gap between society’s ability and success in responding to obesity and obesity’s known serious economic and health consequences is wide. Whether rooted in the belief that overweight and obesity is a matter of personal responsibility or that treatments are ineffective, this paper looks at factors contributing to the disconnect and proposes possibilities for bridging it as a way of improving health and productivity in America.
The above copy is the executive summary.