The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) was founded to give a voice to individuals affected by the disease of obesity. Since our founding in 2005, we have prioritized ensuring that people with obesity have access to science-based obesity care and the ability to live their lives free of weight bias and discrimination. At times, we receive inquiries about how OAC works with industry partners. Below, please find our responses to the most frequently asked questions:

Does OAC accept industry support?

Yes, in some cases. OAC evaluates every partner to ensure their services or treatments for people with obesity are science-based. We will not partner with any company that offers non-science-based treatments for obesity or related health issues. We also partner with industry when we determine there are common goals for increasing access to care and treatment for people with obesity and for eliminating weight bias.

Does industry get to influence OAC projects in return for support?

No. OAC retains full creative control over all our content. Supporters have no influence over any of our projects. Industry support does not constitute an endorsement of any OAC project, program, event, or other activities.

Are industry members involved in the leadership of OAC?

No. OAC’s Board members include people living with obesity and healthcare providers who care for them. Industry has no roles on the OAC Board, and we have conflict of interest policies for each member of the board.

What does your relationship look like with industry?

OAC collaborates with individual companies to identify areas of mutual interest. When a company sponsors or supports OAC, we disclose their support during the activity, on our website, or in other ways. Companies sponsor or provide grants for specific educational, awareness, or support projects. OAC also challenges our industry partners to better support the patient community by conducting more comprehensive clinical trials, outcomes studies, making products and services more affordable, and providing patient assistance programs.

Why work with industry at all?

One reality is that industry providers are going to develop products and services for people with obesity and help elevate public awareness of the disease of obesity and people affected by it. OAC has found our advocacy is more effective when we have relationships with various members of industry. We choose to work together when it makes sense but also choose not to when it does not. OAC is proud of our history of encouraging industry to invest in education, awareness, and support for people with obesity.

How does OAC engage with industry when it comes to advocacy?

If our industry partners share our views and support our policies, OAC will work with them on various advocacy issues. OAC always maintains our independence in determining whether or not to engage on a specific policy issue. Some areas that OAC have partnered with industry include payment for obesity care by Medicare, Medicaid, State Employee Health Plans, Essential Health Benefit Plans and other insurance. OAC also educates many of our industry partners about weight bias, and we see their policy/advocacy teams supporting efforts to combat bias at state and local levels. Our partners also prioritize educating their internal workforce on the topic of weight bias. OAC constantly challenges industry to prioritize access to care issues, and many industry members’ current focus on Medicaid is attributable to OAC’s influence. We also challenge our industry partners about the high costs of new treatments and the lack of patient assistance programs for those of low socioeconomic status.

Why does OAC advocate for coverage of pharmaceuticals?

OAC has long championed access to medications (as we have for all science-based obesity treatments, including behavioral, device, and surgical treatments) because we recognize the importance of having multiple tools for the millions who live with obesity. Even before the current generation of obesity medicines was developed, OAC was advocating for the development and coverage of such medications. In fact, the language in the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act that advocates for expanded access to pharmaceutical treatments was written at OAC’s urging before any of the current pharmaceutical companies producing obesity medications had entered the market.

Why does industry support OAC when at times OAC is critical of their efforts?

OAC’s track record after nearly 20 years of representing the needs and interests of people with obesity stands out to our industry partners. The OAC is respected for our strong yet accurate representation of the needs of people with obesity. They also recognize that it is OAC’s obligation to challenge them to make the world a better place for people living with obesity and respect the fact that we do so. OAC is confident that our efforts with industry improve their activities.

By fostering relationships that benefit our community, OAC continues to drive progress in access to science-based obesity treatments and the elimination of weight bias in society. We remain committed to advocating for those affected by this disease and ensuring that their voices are heard.

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