In the pursuit of creating a healthier and more equitable society, it is vital to address health disparities that disproportionately affect Black Americans. On Friday, August 4, in Seattle, WA, the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) had the privilege of attending and presenting at the National Black Caucus of State Legislators‘ (NBCSL) inaugural State of Black Health in America Policy Forum. The forum focused on the critical issues of obesity and mental health within Black communities, shedding light on the challenges they face and exploring potential solutions. OAC’s Director of Policy Strategy & Alliance, Dr. Tracy Zvenyach, PhD, MS, RN, delivered a presentation on policy options, Medicaid initiatives, and barriers related to addressing obesity.



A Platform for Meaningful Dialogue

The Policy Forum offered a platform for important discussions and insightful presentations that spanned a wide range of topics related to obesity and mental health. Experts from various fields came together to discuss the current state of obesity among Black Americans, identify social drivers of obesity, explore federal strategies to address obesity and mental health and delve into state policy levers to tackle this pressing issue.

Dr. Tracy Zvenyach’s Impactful Presentation

As an esteemed representative of the OAC, Dr. Tracy Zvenyach delivered a compelling presentation that emphasized the importance of policy solutions in confronting obesity. Dr. Zvenyach discussed innovative policy options and Medicaid initiatives that could play a vital role in addressing obesity disparities. She also highlighted the obstacles that must be overcome to create lasting change and promote better health outcomes for Black communities.


Dr. Tracy Zvenyach
Dr. Tracy Zvenyach

Spotlight on Obesity Prevention and Treatment

A notable highlight of the event was the fireside chat featuring OAC member Michele Tedder, who shared her personal journey and experiences with obesity prevention and treatment. This candid conversation brought a human perspective to the discussions, allowing attendees to understand the real-life challenges individuals face and the critical need for accessible and effective obesity prevention and treatment programs.


Fireside chat featuring OAC Member Michele Tedder

Looking Ahead: Collaborating for Change

OAC is grateful for the opportunity to have participated in this groundbreaking forum. We hope to further collaborate with NBCSL in the future to improve health in Black communities. By joining forces with lawmakers and policymakers, organizations like the OAC can advocate for policies that promote health equity, create access to comprehensive healthcare services, and address the social determinants that contribute to obesity disparities.


The National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ State of Black Health in America Policy Forum served as an essential step towards addressing the health disparities faced by Black Americans, particularly in relation to obesity and mental health. With OAC’s active involvement and its commitment to policy solutions, this event marks the beginning of a collaborative effort to create a healthier and more equitable future for Black Americans. By leveraging the insights shared during the Policy Forum, we can work towards implementing evidence-based policies that promote positive health outcomes and foster a society where Black communities have an equal opportunity to live healthy lives.