Ten years ago, the American Medical Association (AMA) took a significant step forward by officially recognizing obesity as a disease. This declaration not only acknowledged the complexity of obesity but also paved the way for improved understanding, research and access to care.
Since our establishment, the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) has committed to elevating and empowering individuals with obesity. Over the past decade, we have tirelessly advocated for those affected by obesity and, with the help of our OAC Community, made remarkable accomplishments.
In honor of the 10th anniversary of obesity’s recognition as a disease, let us take a moment to appreciate ten significant milestones our Community has accomplished over the past ten years:
- Created a bias-free image gallery for the media: Realizing the power of visual representation in shaping public opinion, OAC curated an image gallery for the media representing people with obesity in an unbiased, accurate and respectful way. The image gallery aims to challenge the stereotypes and stigma associated with obesity and help change perceptions of individuals affected by obesity.
- Launched ObesityCareProviders.com: Recognizing the need to connect patients with qualified and compassionate healthcare providers, the OAC established a comprehensive online directory, facilitating access to specialized obesity care and making it easier for individuals to find the support they need.
- Addressed weight bias in media: When the television series Blue Bloods exhibited weight bias in one of its episodes, the OAC took swift action, which led to a positive and constructive dialogue with CBS and encouraged the media to portray obesity respectfully and accurately.
- Recognized as an authority on appropriate language and images for obesity by the CDC: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledged the OAC’s expertise in promoting respectful, unbiased language and imagery related to obesity. This recognition was a testament to the OAC’s commitment to ending weight bias.
- Met with the White House: OAC leaders met with the White House to discuss the importance of addressing obesity as a national priority. By engaging in dialogue with key policymakers, OAC brought obesity to the forefront of political discussions, advocating for policies and initiatives prioritizing obesity care.
- Launched “Weight of the World”: In an effort to amplify the voices of people affected by obesity, OAC launched “Weight of the World,” a video collection platform designed to share real, honest perspectives and experiences of individuals in their journey with weight.
- Joined the Global Obesity Patient Alliance (GOPA): Recognizing the need for a unified global approach to obesity, the OAC became a part of the Global Obesity Patient Alliance. By collaborating with international organizations, the OAC has been able to contribute to a broader movement and advocate for patients with obesity worldwide.
- Advocated for access to obesity care for all Americans: In 2020, the CDC called for equal access to obesity care for all Americans thanks to the dedicated efforts of OAC’s advocates and allied organizations. This milestone marked a crucial step forward in prioritizing equitable healthcare and treatment options for individuals with obesity across the nation.
- Launched the Stop Weight Bias campaign: In 2021, OAC unveiled Stop Weight Bias, a campaign committed to raising awareness, putting a stop to weight bias and pushing equality forward. The campaign is bringing much-need awareness to the areas of life where people with obesity face weight bias the most, including healthcare, employment, education and the media.
- Collaborated with A24 filmmakers on “The Whale”: Before the film’s production, A24 engaged OAC to share insight into the realities of living with obesity. By participating, OAC was able to provide “The Whale” team with the chance to speak to real people whose lives have been affected by obesity.
As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the AMA’s recognition of obesity as a disease and reflect on our tremendous progress over the past decade, we must remember that more work still needs to be done. Collectively, we need to end weight bias, expand access to comprehensive obesity care and create a society where individuals affected by obesity can receive the understanding, support and respect they deserve.
But we can’t do it without your help. Here are a few ways you can help us make the world a better place for people with obesity:
- Support Our Mission: Give $10 to honor the 10-year anniversary of obesity being recognized as a medical disease.
- Take Action: Visit OAC’s Action Center to urge decision-makers to expand access to care and end weight discrimination in your state.
- Join the OAC Community: Sign up as a Premium Access Member for access to hundreds of additional educational and support resources.
Together, we can break down barriers, challenge stigma, and build a society that values and prioritizes the health and well-being of all its members.