Atlanta, GA – Today, more than 93 million Americans are impacted by the disease of obesity; however, a majority of them have very limited access to safe and effective treatment options. This limited access is only furthering the debilitating effects of obesity and decreasing the quality of life and health for those affected.

During Obesity WeekSM in Atlanta, the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) hosted the Advocacy Leadership Reception “Partnering to Treat Obesity.” The event, led by guest of honor Governor Tommy G. Thompson, brought together the nation’s leading experts and thought-leaders from key medical and advocacy organizations. As HHS Secretary from 2001-2005, Governor Thompson led the Administration’s successful passage and implementation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit for America’s seniors. Additionally, he launched a national campaign to encourage families, businesses and communities to lead healthier lifestyles.

The focus of the Advocacy Leadership Reception “Partnering to Treat Obesity” was to encourage organizations to join the OAC in the Partnership to Treat Obesity (PTO). The mission of the Partnership is to encourage federal and state policymakers to recognize that obesity is a serious chronic disease, which deserves to be treated in the same fashion as other chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and others. The PTO is a joint effort among key organizations to promote equal access to, and coverage of, the continuum of care surrounding the treatment of overweight and obesity.

Governor Thompson spoke on the importance of these key healthcare and advocacy groups working together to uniformly and proactively increase access to obesity treatments. “All parts of the health system must work together and coordinate their activities to tackle obesity,” said Governor Thompson. “Prevention, treatment and research must work in tandem toward a common goal. Building and strengthening partnerships is key if we are ever to win this battle.”

Within the past two years, the scope of obesity treatments has greatly increased with the approval of new obesity medications. “Obesity is a complex multifactorial disease. In order to effectively treat this disease, individuals affected by obesity must have access to safe and effective treatment options. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for obesity,” said Joe Nadglowski, OAC President and CEO.

Obesity is a serious health epidemic associated with more than 40 obesity-related conditions and diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis and some cancers. “We must strengthen ourselves as a community. The Partnership to Treat Obesity urges federal and state policymakers to recognize that obesity is a serious chronic disease. With the commitment of the key organizations in attendance, we are confident we will make a difference and increase access to obesity treatments for everyone affected by this disease,” continued Nadglowski.

The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) is a nearly 50,000 member-strong 501(c)(3) National nonprofit organization dedicated to giving a voice to the individual affected by the disease of obesity and helping individuals along their journey toward better health through education, advocacy and support. Our core focuses are to raise awareness and improve access to the prevention and treatment of obesity, provide evidence-based education on obesity and its treatments, fight to eliminate weight bias and discrimination, elevate the conversation of weight and its impact on health and offer a community of support for the individual affected.