The Obesity Action Coalition’s (OAC) first Advocacy Town Hall session kicked off last week with OAC’s President & CEO Joe Nadglowski’s presentation on Understanding OAC’s Advocacy Focuses. 

The presentation began with the question, “Why advocate?” The answer is simple – we need to fight for the change we deserve. 

To truly fix a societal problem, we must fix the broken system that allows that problem to exist. Advocacy allows us to come together with one voice to demand much-needed change. Advocacy is all about creating change from below, and it works! Some of the most significant improvements in people’s lives were achieved through grassroots advocacy.

“Real change requires both legislative action and a shift in public opinion. Laws or popular opinion alone aren’t enough to create meaningful change.” 

While words, beliefs, and public perception have shifted over the past 20 years and reduced weight bias, we still have hurdles to jump. Currently, there is a lack of public understanding of obesity, a lack of trained obesity medicine healthcare providers, low utilization of the treatment options that some people do have available, and a lack of public will that obesity deserves treatment in the same way as other “more acceptable” diseases.

OAC’s advocacy priorities fall into two core areas: stopping weight bias and expanding access to care. 

Weight bias is holding negative attitudes about people’s weight or harming and shaming someone because of their weight. Bias is the main driver of the current state of obesity care. OAC advocates that people should be treated with dignity and respect no matter their physical size or treatment path, and that weight bias is eliminated in our society. Click here to learn more about OAC’s Weight Bias campaign, and click here to take the weight bias pledge.

“The prevalence and acceptance of weight bias in this country hamper our efforts to expand access to obesity care.” 

Access to care means many things – from having affordable health coverage to accessible providers that have been trained on obesity care, and equipment that accommodates both weight and size to providers being willing to look beyond weight. OAC advocates that obesity should be recognized as a life-long, chronic, multifactorial disease and that obesity care and policies that improve health are prioritized. Click here to learn more about OAC’s Access to Care campaign.

Obesity advocates must demand change at the federal, state and local levels to create a better world for people with obesity. Learn more about our issue priorities and advocacy tips by watching the full Understanding OAC’s Advocacy Focuses Town Hall session. 

Up next: sign up for the next Advocacy Town Hall session on September 29th at 8 pm ET: Advocacy Targeting. Obesity Action Coalition’s Policy Consultant, Chris Gallagher, will discuss OAC’s advocacy targets, communicating with targets, and how you can influence them to make obesity care a priority.