Why I Give – OAC Members Give Back by Spreading the Word on Weight Bias and Stigma

The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) tackles numerous issues in the field of obesity, and one of these issues is weight bias and stigma. Weight stigma plays a role in everyday life, and remains a socially acceptable form of prejudice in American society that is rarely challenged.

To combat this, OAC member and longtime supporter Reeger Cortell, FNP-C, a family nurse practitioner at the Southern Oregon Bariatric Center, created a video to showcase this exact issue. The video, “I Have a Disease; It’s Called Obesity,” was recently crowned the winner of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery’s (ASMBS) “It Starts Now” film and video contest, and featured numerous members of the OAC.

In the video, Cortell’s unapologetic message is this: The disease of obesity is exactly that – a disease – and individuals affected by obesity shouldn’t be subjected to shame, blame or ridicule because of their weight.

Throughout the video, numerous members and supporters of the OAC raise their voice on the matter, stating that they’re no longer going to accept the stigma that often accompanies excess weight and obesity. Instead, they’re asking everyone who makes snap judgments about the disease to stop assuming that those affected by obesity are at fault for their weight.

“I really felt in my bones that it was a powerful and important message, and that the project came together really well,” Cortell said.

Cortell received a prize of $5,000 for her winning video, and through a group decision by all participants in the film, the winnings were donated to the OAC, with half of the money benefitting the OAC’s weight bias efforts, and the other half being donated to the OAC’s Convention Scholarship Program.

Reeger Cortell, FNP-C, created a video titled “I Have a Disease; It’s Called Obesity,” which was recently crowned the winner of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery’s (ASMBS) “It Starts Now” film and video contest.

“The weight bias work (of the OAC) is important, and we wanted to make a statement, not only in our words, but in our pocketbooks as well, that this is something that we support more work being done in,” Cortell said. “This went along in line with what the video was talking about.”

The group also wanted individuals to have direct access to the Your Weight Matters National Convention itself. As more people attend the event, they’ll be able to get better connected with the OAC, as many of the film’s participants already have.

Cortell became involved with the OAC after launching her “Weight-Loss Surgery Podcast” in 2013, and attending the 2nd Annual Your Weight Matters National Convention in Phoenix, Ariz., during which she became connected with OAC President and CEO Joe Nadglowski as one of the earliest interviewees for her podcast.

“I talk about the OAC on my podcast more than I talk about any singular group,” Cortell said. “I’m constantly encouraging listeners to join the OAC and get involved and understand the work the OAC is doing on their behalf every single day.”

Cortell also promotes the OAC in her bariatric surgery seminars, encouraging her participants to get involved with the group so they can receive the education, advocacy or support that the organization provides.

“Join the OAC, if you’re struggling with your insurance or you’re feeling like you’re being discriminated against, this is the group that is working on your behalf, and they need your support just as much as you need theirs,” Cortell said.

 More than 93 million Americans are affected by obesity.

It’s time that we support these individuals by ensuring they are treated with dignity and respect,
have the right to access safe and effective treatment and are provided with the right information through unbiased education.

The OAC was formed in 2005 to make this support a reality. Our mission is to elevate and empower individuals affected by obesity through education, advocacy and support. For more than 10 years, we have been the voice for those with obesity. With more than 50,000 members nationwide, we stand strong and will continue to fight for the rights of all those affected by the disease of obesity.



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