National Obesity Care Week: Behind the Scenes of Obesity
September 16-20 is National Obesity Care Week (NOCW). NOCW is a source for science-based information on obesity. More than 93 million Americans are affected by obesity, with an estimated cost of $480 billion to the healthcare system. The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) has joined as a partner of NOCW, advancing our conviction that people who struggle with obesity deserve access to quality care and must be treated with dignity and respect.
Recently, HLC has been focused on how the healthcare system can utilize research on social determinants of health so that essential socioeconomic and environmental factors can be considered and addressed in addition to one’s clinical care. At the beginning of this week, HLC hosted a Hill briefing that had an expert panel present on reducing disparities in health. While this particular briefing looked at the whole patient from a pediatric and senior perspective rather than zeroing in on obesity, there is a strong relationship between obesity and low socioeconomic status that cannot be ignored.
Many HLC members have recognized the need to reach out and invest in the well-being of surrounding communities:
- BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has taken many avenues to encourage healthy lifestyles of Tennesseans, such as revitalizing neighborhoods with parks, and repaving the roads with bike lanes.
- The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation provided resources to establish one of New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive children’s hospitals which includes a clinical center of excellence dedicated to the study and treat childhood obesity.
- Fairview Health System launched a new 24-week Healthy Lifestyle Plan that combines evidence-based weight loss strategies with one-on-one lifestyle coaching. This approach can address medical issues that make it hard for someone to lose weight on their own, such as hormone levels, the side effects of prescription drugs, or chronic conditions like sleep apnea.
- Teladoc Health has invested in a personalized virtual care platform for physical and behavioral health, addressing the root of the problem for chronic disease with digital therapeutic interventions and sustainable behavioral change.
It is promising that across the healthcare spectrum there have been a variety of solutions offered to address obesity, but much progress must still be achieved to make a lasting impact on the health of millions of Americans. Many people do not know that obesity is a disease, and education is the just the first step to achieving NOCW’s goal of access to comprehensive obesity care. More voices are needed to enact change. Additional information about ways to take action is available on ObesityCareWeek.org/ACTION.