Obesity Driving America's Healthcare to a Tipping Point

Wed Sep 9, 2009 9:23am EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Obesity Experts and Surgeons General Call on Policymakers to Adopt Obesity

SILVER SPRING, Md., Sept. 9  /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Obesity Society
and other steering committee members of the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent
(STOP) Obesity Alliance, and two former US Surgeons General, join together
today to develop effective recommendations to urge policymakers to act on the
inclusion of obesity as the largest and most urgent driving factor in
healthcare reform.

The two most recent Surgeons General of the United States, David Satcher MD,
PhD and Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, respectively 16th and 17th US Surgeons
General, jointly urged policymakers to take direct action on obesity and its
associated chronic diseases by including obesity as a key element in
healthcare reform.

"Health reform will succeed only if we address obesity and the chronic
diseases it causes," said Robert Kushner, MD, President of The Obesity
Society. "Obesity is the number 1, most serious health issue facing the
country. It is also the largest single driver of our increasing healthcare
costs and we need to address it now."

More than one third of US adults -- more than 72 million people -- and 16
percent of US children are now estimated to be overweight or obese.(1) Obesity
and overweight are associated with several chronic health risks and
conditions, including: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, some
types of cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and gallbladder disease.(2) 
Furthermore, the medical costs of obesity are now estimated at more than $147
billion per year.(3)

The Obesity Society supports the four targeted recommendations for effective
healthcare reform issued by the STOP Obesity Alliance at the meeting held
today at the Newseum in Washington, DC:

    --  Standardized and effective clinical interventions, flowing from
        evidence-based guidelines, such as those approved by the National
        Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), that include acknowledging the
        benefits of five to ten percent sustained weight loss to aid and
        those individuals who are currently overweight or obese achieve
    --  Enhanced use of clinical preventive services to monitor health status
        and help prevent weight gain, especially for individuals who are
        overweight and are at risk of becoming obese.
    --  Effective, evidence-based community programs and policies that
        and support healthy lifestyles, focus on health literacy, address
        disparities, and represent a significant investment in
        prevention of obesity.

    --  Coordinated research efforts to build the evidence for all three of
        above elements, continuously improving quality of care, bolstering our
        understanding of what does and does not work in various settings, and
        helping to translate the scientific research into practice
        recommendations for real-world clinical settings and communities.

"These recommendations are designed to improve the dialogue and interventions
around obesity. Successful reform will address clinical treatment, prevention,
community programs and research to reverse the medical burden of obesity,"
said Dr. Kushner. "Lending our support to the STOP Obesity Alliance
recommendations will also bring us one more step closer to providing a health
system that can effectively lessen the grip of obesity on our society."

About The Obesity Society
The Obesity Society (www.obesity.org) is the leading scientific organization
dedicated to the study of obesity. The Obesity Society has been committed to
encouraging research on the causes and treatment of obesity and is keeping the
medical community and public informed of new advances. The Obesity Society's
vision is to be the leader in understanding, preventing and treating obesity
and in improving the lives of those affected. The Obesity Society's membership
comprises more than 2000 basic and clinical researchers, who have published
extensively, and care providers in obesity treatment and prevention.

About the STOP Obesity Alliance
The Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance is a
collaboration of consumer, provider, government, labor, business, health
insurers, and quality-of-care organizations united to drive innovative and
practical strategies that combat obesity. The STOP Obesity Alliance is
directed by Research Professor Christine C. Ferguson, J.D., of The George
Washington University's Department of Health Policy and former Health
Commissioner for the State of Massachusetts.  Richard H. Carmona, M.D.,
M.P.H., FACS, 17th U.S. Surgeon General and President of the non-profit Canyon
Ranch Institute, serves as Health and Wellness Chairperson of the Alliance.
The Alliance Steering Committee is comprised of the following public and
private sector organizations: American Diabetes Association, American Heart
Association, America's Health Insurance Plans, American Medical Group
Association, Canyon Ranch Institute, CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical
Activity and Obesity (DNPAO), DMAA: The Care Continuum Alliance, National
Business Group on Health, National Quality Forum, Partnership for Prevention,
Reality Coalition, Service Employees International Union, The Obesity Society
and Trust for America's Health. The STOP Obesity Alliance receives funding
from its sponsors, sanofi-aventis U.S. LLC., founding sponsor, and Amylin
Pharmaceuticals, Inc., supporting sponsor.

(1) Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
(2) Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of
Overweight and Obesity in Adults, NHLBI,
(3) Eric A. Finkelstein, Justin G. Trogdon, Joel W. Cohen, William Dietz, 
[Health Affairs 28, no. 5( )(2009): w822-w831 (published online 27 July 2009;

SOURCE  The Obesity Society

Jane Pratt of The Obesity Society, +1-301-563-6526, jpratt@obesity.org
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.