Letter Writing Week – Sharing Our Personal Journeys with Legislators

The voice of individuals affected by excess weight and obesity is an important one in educating the public about the need for obesity care and treatment.

It’s the journeys, testimonies and various walks of life these individuals’ experience that help people understand where they’re coming from, and provides a glimpse of what it’s like to walk in their shoes. Being able to understand someone’s story is what will drive others to support change, and in the case of the OAC, support the advocacy work we do year-round to provide access to obesity care and treatment, and to remove weight bias and stigma from society.

Today’s letter comes from OAC member Kathleen Roberts, who has previously written her legislators in support of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA). Ms. Roberts wrote to Debra Strobel, the Senior U.S. Senator from the state of Nebraska, to share how the disease of obesity has impacted her, and why it’s important that the TROA be passed:

Dear Senator Fischer,

Happy New Year! I can’t believe we are nearly two weeks into 2016 already. The beginning of the year is a great time to reflect on accomplishments and set goals for the New Year.

Previously, you reached out to me in response to a petition for a bill that is very important and vital to many, the “Treat and Reduce Obesity Act.” This made me realize that I DO have a voice, which is HUGE, and very new to me. It also gives me HOPE.

Why is it that drug and alcohol addiction, which I understand plague many and can be very debilitating, seems almost “socially acceptable,” while those of us affected by obesity just “lack self-control?”

I realize that there have been advancements in the areas of weight bias and stigmatization, but, there is so much more that needs to happen. So many individuals need obesity treatment and care. Doctors need trained, qualified professionals to help them learn about how to treat their patients.

Like other treated diseases, medications on board can make a life changing difference. I know for myself, it has given me the extra “tool” to fight the good fight, and makes the battle easier. Along with the help of a therapist, it would be an even bigger help if Medicare provided coverage for these treatments and weight management strategies, making it feasible for so many others, like myself, to afford this help.

I’m writing to you today about treatment for a disease that most have been struggling with since we were toddlers. A disease that we have been shamed and bullied about for years, often times by the ones that we trust the most — our families. What a number that shame and bullying does to one’s head! I digress.

This August, I will be joining together with my friends from the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) for the organization’s annual convention. The OAC has helped me and its more than 50,000 members realize our worth; and allowed me to share time with my friends on our journeys of hope and comradery. Maybe this year, we will be celebrating another victory — the passage of the TROA!

Thanks for your time, and support. Have a great 2016!

Sincerely,

Kathleen Roberts



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