My name is Kayte Barton. I am high functioning autistic and struggle with obesity. I have struggled to find programs that were aimed at me or would try to understand the unique challenges I face with my intellectual disability.
I serve as a Health Messenger for Special Olympics, and my role is to help improve the health of athletes, and to educate organizations and physicians on the importance of inclusive health. This has been important for me personally to be engaged in educating others on inclusive health.
I realized that if I was having struggles getting the care I needed that I was probably not alone. People with intellectual disabilities have a higher rate of obesity than the general population and it is not widely addressed or researched. It became clear to me that I needed to become an advocate for myself and other people with intellectual disabilities around obesity.
People with intellectual disabilities have a right to have access to obesity care and related programs too. We need to be included in obesity conversations in both physical and mental health aspects as we are one of the most underserved populations in this area.
I thought it was important to write legislation to address this because I know that is one way I can make a long-lasting change that can help many others as well as myself. I wrote a bill and presented it to my local lawmakers who agreed to help me with supporting it through the process. My bill is currently in the Minnesota House and Senate Health and Finance Committees awaiting hearings this next session. I can hardly believe how quickly this has gone from an idea from a personal struggle to something that is starting to bring big awareness to others and engaging people to help me in making real changes to make sure all people with intellectual disabilities have access to inclusive health care when it comes to obesity. This is just the start for me and I have so much passion for being an advocate. I can’t wait to see what this leads to!
Together, we can end weight bias towards marginalized populations, such as people with intellectual disabilities, and ensure that they are included in conversations around obesity, and receive equal access towards obesity prevention, treatment, and help educate others to improve their lives.
You can help too by supporting the Obesity Action Coalition by making sure that they continue to work towards creating obesity awareness and conversations for everyone, by making a contribution to their organization.
Kayte Barton is an OAC Community Member from Saint Paul, Minnesota. Like Kayte, are you interested in speaking up and sharing your personal story? Please email [email protected] with your inquiry or upload your story in video format to WeightoftheWorld.com, the OAC’s main story-sharing platform.