Capitol Hill Forum Spotlights Efforts to Address Obesity Challenge

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D. address the Healthcare Leadership Council forum on anti-obesity initiatives.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D. headlined a Healthcare Leadership Council-sponsored forum on Capitol Hill, telling a large audience that the nation’s battle against obesity begins with community involvement and teaching sound nutrition and lifestyle choices at an early age. Dr. Murthy also talked about the need to unify anti-obesity efforts across multiple sectors – traditional and non-traditional – in order to achieve cultural change.

The HLC forum, entitled “Healthcare’s Heavyweight Battle: How America Can Win the Fight Against Obesity,” also included experts from companies making inroads in addressing America’s obesity crisis which, as HLC president Mary Grealy said in her opening remarks, has grown from affecting 13 percent of the population in the early 1960s to 35 percent today.

Dr. Gary Foster of Weight Watchers said the nation has acknowledged the seriousness of obesity, but has not yet successfully addressed it. He said policymakers need to focus on weight-loss solutions that warrant coverage and reimbursement. Dr. Charles Baum of Takeda Pharmaceuticals pointed out that lifestyle modification combined with medication therapy has proven effective in helping patients achieve weight loss. Dr. Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic said that organization has achieved improved health among its workforce by making harmful behaviors more difficult (no smoking areas, no sugary drinks in vending machines) and providing incentives for healthy behaviors. Dr. Derek Robinson of Health Care Service Corporation spotlighted demographic disparities in obesity rates and also pointed out that HCSC-sponsored community initiatives have achieved reduced body mass index rates among children.

At the forum, successful regional programs – Community Care of North Carolina, B’More Fit for Healthy Babies, and Oklahoma City’s million-pounds weight loss effort – were spotlighted. Presentation materials from the forum can be found here.