March 15, 2021 Comments are off OCAN

OPINION: Congress Can’t Wait When It Comes to Obesity

Original Post: Morning Consult

Americans have lived for more than a year amid a global pandemic that has not only rocked health care and the nation to its core, but further exposed the significant health disparities that exist in this country. These disparities, including higher rates of serious disease and death due to COVID-19 in communities of color, are made significantly worse by the obesity crisis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with COVID-19 who have underlying health conditions — most commonly hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and chronic lung disease — are six times more likely to be hospitalized and 12 times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those without underlying health conditions. Additionally, nearly half of adults with laboratory-confirmed hospitalizations due to COVID-19 experience obesity as an underlying condition.

Despite these findings and a history of increasing obesity rates in the United States, health care coverage of evidence-based obesity treatment remains out of reach for those who need it most. Earlier this month, however, the bipartisan Treat and Reduce Obesity Act was introduced in both the House and the Senate by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) and Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), as well as Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). The bill expands Medicare to cover therapies and treatment options that will help increase access to obesity care for all Americans. Now is the time to pass this important legislation.

Obesity is one of the most common medical conditions in the United States today. In less than 20 years, the rate of obesity has gone up almost 50 percent and severe obesity has nearly doubled. Today, about 42 percent of Americans have obesity. The disease is more likely to affect our most vulnerable populations, including low-income individuals and racial and ethnic minorities.

As we continue to live with COVID-19 now and prepare for future pandemics, it is critical that we do everything we can to reduce the co-morbidities that make COVID-19 infection and severe illness more likely. We applaud the CDC for its recommendations to prioritize people with underlying medical conditions, including obesity, to receive COVID-19 vaccines. But we must also tackle the factors that make it more deadly.

With ongoing research, we have improved our clinical and scientific understanding of the factors that contribute to obesity. We know that effective obesity treatment must address the biological processes that cause the disease, as well as the behavioral contributors. TROA addresses obesity head-on by providing coverage for a spectrum of evidence-based health care treatments. The bill gives the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services the authority to use Medicare benefits to improve access to, and coverage of, intensive behavioral therapy, FDA-approved anti-obesity medications and other new and existing obesity treatment options.

Beyond the potential impact on related health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and stroke, covering obesity treatment could also lead to improved outcomes from COVID-19 infection – fewer hospitalizations, decreased ICU utilization and fewer deaths. A recent budget analysis estimated that during its first 10 years, TROA would save Medicare $18 to 23 billion if enacted. CMS rule-making could have a similar compounding effect. And as Medicare expands obesity treatment options, so would the impetus for other health care plans to follow suit.

Congress has been considering TROA for nearly a decade, and there is no more urgent time to act than now. With TROA’s broad bipartisan support and momentum, and an administration committed to action on urgent health concerns, we can address three major epidemics in the United States: obesity, racial and ethnic health disparities and COVID-19. It’s our responsibility to pass the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act immediately.

Joe Nadglowski is co-chair of the Obesity Advocacy Care Network and CEO and president of the Obesity Action Coalition.

March 4, 2021 Comments are off OCAN

OCAN Statement on the Re-introduction of TROA

WASHINGTON, DC – Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) Chair Joe Nadglowski, president and CEO of the Obesity Action Coalition, today released a statement in support of the bipartisan re-introduction of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) in both the House (H.R.1577) and the Senate (S.596) by Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI), Tom Reed (R-NY), Raul Ruiz (D-CA) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), as well as Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA):

“OCAN and its network of obesity advocates applauds the re-introduction of TROA in both the House and Senate by a bi-partisan group of legislators and urges Congress to pass this important legislation as soon as possible.

“Obesity, a complex disease impacting more than 40%  of Americans—27 million of whom are over age 60—requires a comprehensive approach to both prevention and treatment. A major barrier is lack of coverage for the most effective treatment options, from behavioral therapy to pharmacological interventions.

“As we have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people with obesity are at higher risk of more severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization, and death. This risk is particularly disproportionate in communities of color, where higher rates of serious disease and death due to COVID-19 are made significantly worse by higher rates of obesity.

“The rate of obesity among Medicare beneficiaries doubled from 1987 to 2002 and nearly doubled again by 2016. TROA extends Medicare coverage to include intensive behavioral therapy for obesity by providers outside of primary care and allows coverage under Medicare’s prescription drug benefit of FDA-approved drugs for obesity treatment or chronic weight management for individuals who are affected by excess weight or obesity.

“It is critical that Congress pass this important legislation that will improve obesity prevention and treatment outcomes—now and into the future.”


About the Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN)

The Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) is a diverse group of organizations that have come together with the purpose of changing how we perceive and approach the problem of obesity in this nation. The mission of the coalition is to unite and align key obesity stakeholders and the larger obesity community around key obesity-related education, policy and legislative efforts in order to elevate obesity on the national agenda. For more information visit

The Science of Obesity Management: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement

The prevalence of obesity, measured by body mass index, has risen to unacceptable levels in both men and women in the United States and worldwide with resultant hazardous health implications. Genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors influence the development of obesity, and both the general public and health professionals stigmatize those who suffer from the disease. Obesity is associated with and contributes to a shortened life span, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, kidney disease, obstructive sleep apnea, gout, osteoarthritis, and hepatobiliary disease, among others. Weight loss reduces all of these diseases in a dose-related manner—the more weight lost, the better the outcome. The phenotype of “medically healthy obesity” appears to be a transient state that progresses over time to an unhealthy phenotype, especially in children and adolescents. Weight loss is best achieved by reducing energy intake and increasing energy expenditure. Programs that are effective for weight loss include peer-reviewed and approved lifestyle modification programs, diets, commercial weight-loss programs, exercise programs, medications, and surgery. Over-the-counter herbal preparations that some patients use to treat obesity have limited, if any, data documenting their efficacy or safety, and there are few regulatory requirements. Weight regain is expected in all patients, especially when treatment is discontinued. When making treatment decisions, clinicians should consider body fat distribution and individual health risks in addition to body mass index.

To read the source of this article, click here.

March 7, 2018 Comments are off OCAN

OCAN on the Hill: Advocating for the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act

On Tuesday, February 27, various OCAN leaders joined more than 80 individuals from 24 different states in attending the second annual OCAN Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC to advocate for the passage of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA).

Once again, advocates urged legislators to support and cosponsor this key obesity care legislation which will provide Medicare beneficiaries and their healthcare providers with meaningful tools to treat obesity by:

  • Improving access to weight management counseling;
  • And allowing for coverage of FDA-approved therapeutics for chronic weight management

This year, OCAN leaders and other advocates visited 102 congressional offices and legislators who had never cosponsored the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act in the past. By the end of the day, a number of House members had indicated that they would be signing onto the legislation! The success of the OCAN Advocacy day is a true testament to the level of support gathered for such key obesity legislation, and even more so of the need for expanded access to healthcare that TROA would provide.

The day ended with a reception hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Political Action Committee (AND PAC) and the ASMBS Political Action Committee (ObesityPAC) to honor Representative Eric Paulsen (R-MN) – one of the House sponsors of TROA and the National Obesity Care Week Congressional Resolution.

To continue supporting TROA alongside OCAN leaders, contact your Senators and your House of Representatives member and urge them to support this key legislation by CLICKING HERE.

The Impact of Medicare Coverage for Anti-Obesity Interventions

Obesity is acknowledged as a critical public health concern in the US. The economic burden of the disease is not insignificant. Estimates vary, but a recent study suggested that in the US, the cost of obesity, and obesity-related treatments, was approximately $427.8 billion in 2014, an amount that has undoubtedly escalated in the years that followed owing to the increasing numbers of individuals with obesity. Using a validated and published microsimulation model, we predicted the budget impact to Medicare if the coverage utilization of anti-obesity interventions becomes higher among the elderly.

Over the next 10 years, Medicare is expected to save $19 billion after a modest coverage utilization, and $21 billion after a more aggressive coverage utilization, with the majority of the savings coming from reduction in ambulatory care (Part B) and prescription drug (Part D) expenditures. Even after an aggressive (67.4%) coverage utilization, the evidence shows ≤8% of all Medicare beneficiaries to receive some form of anti-obesity treatment.

Additional Findings

  • On average, lifestyle intervention helps elderly who are eligible lose 7.5% of excessive weight per year, and anti-obesity drug combined with lifestyle intervention can help eligible patients lose about 9.7%. Participants regain 1/3 of initial lost weight within 5 years after discontinuation
  • Each treated beneficiary is expected to incur direct costs to Medicare of ~$1,700 from covered anti-obesity treatment. Those costs will be offset by improvement in their overall health condition, leading to lower expenditures in ER, ambulatory care, inpatient stays, and Rx, resulting in net savings between $6,700 – $7,100 over 10 years per person
  • Across the entire Medicare population suggest medical expense would increase about $120 per beneficiary due to higher coverage utilization. The reduction in the cost of treating obesity complications would be more than enough to offset the increased expense, leading to a net savings of between $300 – $330 per beneficiary over 10 years

Our simulation suggests there are likely to be sizable long-term Medicare budget savings due to higher utilization of anti-obesity interventions (lifestyle interventions and/or anti-obesity medications). Download the whitepaper along with a description of the modeling approach and analysis design.

Click here to read the full article

August 28, 2017 Comments are off OCAN

OCAN to Join Others on Capitol Hill

On September 26 and 27, leaders from the Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) will join with over 400 employees of Novo Nordisk, Inc, for a two-day advocacy blitz of Capitol Hill to urge Congress to pass S. 830/H.R. 1953- the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA). The legislation, which has the bipartisan support of over 100 House and Senate co-sponsors, aims to effectively treat and reduce obesity in older Americans by enhancing Medicare beneficiaries’ access to healthcare providers that are best suited to provide intensive behavioral therapy (IBT) and by allowing Medicare Part D to cover FDA-approved obesity drugs.

The upcoming September advocacy days will build on more than 250 OCAN congressional visits this year to grow support for TROA, which continues to be championed by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) and Representatives Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Ron Kind (D-WI). This time around, advocates will be armed with a new analysis that highlights how passage of TROA could save the Medicare program between $19-21 billion during the next 10 years.

March 2, 2017 Comments are off OCAN

Economics of Obesity: Implications for Productivity and Competitiveness

OCAN Blankets Capitol Hill – Meeting with over 150 Congressional Offices to support TROA and NOCW

On February 27, 2017, the obesity community joined together for the first Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) Advocacy Day of 2017 — with 120 attendees visiting more than 150 congressional offices. During their visits, OCAN members educated legislators and congressional staff about both the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) and a congressional resolution that would designate the week of October 29 – November 4, 2017 as National Obesity Care Week (NOCW).

Sandwiched in between morning and afternoon Hill visits, attendees paused to join legislative staff for a special congressional lunch briefing sponsored by OCAN and Novo Nordisk, inc. regarding the “Economics of Obesity and its Implications for Productivity and Competitiveness.” The briefing, which featured economists, patient advocates and the former Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, highlighted how obesity and excess weight is an expanding health problem for more than 60 percent of Americans, and how a new study by Hugh Waters and Ross DeVol finds that it’s a tremendous drain on the U.S. economy as well. The authors of the study discussed how the total cost to treat health conditions related to obesity—ranging from diabetes to Alzheimer’s—plus obesity’s drag on attendance and productivity at work exceeds $1.4 trillion annually.

The day ended with a reception hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Political Action Committee (AND PAC), which featured Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) – one of the Senate sponsors of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act and the Senate National Obesity Care Week resolution. Over 50 OCAN members attended the AND PAC sponsored reception, including representatives from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, The Obesity Society, the Obesity Medicine Association and the Obesity Action Coalition.

Weight Shaming Falls as Medical View of Obesity Grows

New research to be presented at ObesityWeek 2016 indicates that weight shaming may be easing a bit. At the same time, the public increasingly understands that obesity is a medical condition. Between 2013 and 2016, public perception of obesity as a “personal problem of bad choices” has dropped from 44% to 34%. On top of that, public agreement that people with obesity need medical help increased significantly over the last year.

trends-in-agreement-with-four-obesity-narrativesThe research included data from more than 100,000 interviews with Americans since 2013. Bias against people with obesity is a daunting problem that discourages people from seeking medical care and can make obesity harder to overcome. In recent years, concerns about “fat shaming” have captured public attention and even sparked controversy in the U.S. campaign for president. Rebecca Puhl, Deputy Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity and Professor at the University of Connecticut, was senior author of the study. She commented on the importance of the research, saying:

We see encouraging signs here that the public may begin to reject some of the bias directed at people with obesity. Weight bias remains a significant source of harm to people living with obesity. It makes prevention and treatment of obesity much harder.

The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) sponsored the research. President and CEO Joe Nadglowski commented:

Putting an end to fat shaming and bias against people with obesity is one of our most important goals. Shame and blame only makes obesity worse. So these numbers tell us that we’re making progress, but we still have a long way to go.

This research was selected by the Obesity Society as one of the top-scoring studies at the ObesityWeek meeting and singled out for a special presentation on Thursday evening. Lead author Ted Kyle pointed to the growing agreement that people with obesity need medical help for their condition. He said:

For years the public and even healthcare professionals have looked at obesity as a personal failure and not one that should require help from medical professionals. We now see that the 2013 decision by the American Medical Association to classify obesity as a chronic disease was an important milestone. And this year, for the first time, more Americans agree than disagree that obesity is a disease that requires medical help.

This trend is gradual. It’s uneven. But it’s progress.

Click here for a pdf of the poster. If you’re attending ObesityWeek in New Orleans, be sure to come for the Poster Education Theater on Thursday at 7 pm, where co-investigator Diana Thomas will present the study.

To view the original source of this blog, please click here.

Health Plans Often Stand in the Way of Obesity Care

New research from two separate studies presented at ObesityWeek in New Orleans demonstrates that health plans often stand in the way of obesity care. In one study, researchers from Harvard, ConscienHealth, and the Obesity Action Coalition found that most Americans report they don’t have health insurance that will pay for obesity care recommended in evidence-based guidelines. These include dietary counseling, medical obesity treatment, and bariatric surgery.

Even for people with employers that are targeting obesity in their wellness programs, more often than not, people do not believe that their health insurance will even cover dietary counseling by a registered dietitian. Reported coverage for medical obesity treatment (43%), obesity medicines (37%), and bariatric surgery is even lower. Ted Kyle presented the results on Thursday.

Ruchi Doshi presented research from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins. She reported that most health professionals (57%) believe that better insurance coverage for weight management services is important for providing better obesity care in clinical practice. Scott Kahan, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, DC, and a spokesman for the Obesity Society commented:

While self-management strategies, such as following a commercial diet or increasing exercise, can help in some individuals, most people with obesity, especially those with severe obesity, can benefit from a comprehensive approach that includes healthcare professional support.

Joe Nadglowski, President and CEO of the Obesity Action Coalition, added:

Our members report heartbreaking struggles to obtain insurance coverage for services like bariatric surgeries and obesity medicines that are necessary to reduce and prevent the obesity from ravaging their health. Sometimes they are outright denied coverage. Sometimes they are presented with absurd hurdles that have the same effect.

Harvard Obesity Medicine Physician Fatima Cody Stanford participated in the coverage gap research and commented on its implications:

Without coverage, many people must go without good medical care for obesity. The irony is that untreated obesity leads to a host of chronic diseases – like diabetes and heart disease – that wind up costing health plans even more. The current situation makes little sense, financially or medically.

Click here for the abstract of the study presented by Kyle and here for the study by Doshi et al. Click here for Kyle’s slides.

To view the original source of this blog, please click here.

October 5, 2016 Comments are off OCAN

AACE Announces the Launch of the Obesity Resource Center

The AACE Obesity Resource Center is a compendium of educational tools to educate AACE members and other health care professionals about the rapidly evolving landscape of obesity science and pharmacotherapy and complications-centric strategies that will result in improved long-term maintenance of weight loss in patients with obesity. The content is divided into three sections, each containing detailed, downloadable slide decks:

  • What is the disease of obesity?
  • Why do we treat obesity?
  • How do we treat obesity?

The Obesity Resource Center joins the successful, highly accessed Diabetes Resource Center, originally launched in 2013. This site is continually updated with new therapy information, downloadable slide decks, and current news items.