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The Start of 2011 and OAC Advocacy Initiatives

by Chris Gallagher, OAC Policy Consultant

Spring 2011

The OAC continues to be very busy in its advocacy efforts to educate policymakers at both the federal and state level. Since January 1, 2011, Joe Nadglowski, OAC President and CEO, has joined with OAC members and other advocates affected by obesity in visiting the offices of more than 50 legislators on Capitol Hill and participating in three different special events – standing up for the rights of those affected by obesity.

One-Year Anniversary of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign

On February 9, Mr. Nadglowski participated in an invitation-only event held by First Lady Michelle Obama’s office to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Let’s Move! Campaign.

In a personal speech during the celebration, the First Lady shared how this issue has affected her as a parent. She also highlighted the momentum Let’s Move! has gained and her view of what needs to be done to reduce childhood obesity in a generation.

Finally, to provide parents and families with information on healthy food and physical activity options for children, the First Lady unveiled a national Let’s Move! public service awareness campaign, created by the Ad Council, that will reach 33,000 media outlets.

Obama Administration Holds Forum on Employer-Wellness Incentive Programs

On February 24, OAC leadership spoke at a half-day Incentive-based Worksite Wellness Program Forum sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – the federal agency overseeing Medicare, Medicaid and other public health programs. The forum brought together stakeholders from employers, unions and patient advocacy groups, including OAC Board member, Ted Kyle, RPh, MBA, to share concerns and discuss ways of implementing worksite wellness regulations related to healthcare reform.

During the forum, Mr. Kyle pointed out that, “Setting arbitrary body mass index (BMI) goals doesn’t work in wellness programs relating to obesity. What is needed is access to effective treatment and a focus on longer-term outcomes.”

OAC and Obesity Care Community Urge FDA to Practice Fairness in Evaluating Obesity Drugs

On March 22, OAC joined with representatives from The Obesity Society, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and the American Dietetic Association in meeting with key staff of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding recent FDA activity surrounding review and approval of current and pending drugs to treat obesity.

During the meeting, concerns were expressed to Janet Woodcock, MD, Director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, over the perception by many that in reviewing and approving new obesity treatments, the FDA has set up daunting regulatory hurdles unlike those that face new medications for any other disease. In addition, the groups also offered specific recommendations regarding how the FDA can improve its review process.

National Healthy Weight Matters Month

On March 15, OAC members came together to urge members of Congress to support a resolution that will designate the month of March 2012 as National Healthy Weight Matters Month. Modeled after the OAC’s Your Weight Matters Campaign, individuals across the country would be encouraged to initiate a conversation with their healthcare professional about their weight during National Healthy Weight Matters Month.

OAC advocates visited more than 20 congressional offices in search of House and Senate champions to take leadership roles in supporting passage of National Healthy Weight Matters Month. A list of Capitol Hill staff that were visited and their contact information can be found to the right. We encourage all of you that either live in the state of these legislators or have a special connection with these policymakers to email them a personal message along the following lines:

“I understand that you recently met with representatives from the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) regarding support for a congressional resolution to designate March 2012 as National Healthy Weight Matters Month. As someone who is personally affected by obesity, I urge you to support this important initiative as it will encourage all Americans who struggle with their weight to initiate a conversation with a healthcare professional about how they can best address their excess weight or obesity.”

Please let me know if [INSERT REPRESENTATIVE’S NAME] will support this critical effort. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you,

Capitol Hill Staff to Send a Personal Message to:


Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Nora Connors, Health Legislative Assistant

Representative Lois Capps (D-CA)
Adriane Casalotti, Health Legislative Assistant


Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Susie Ahn, Health Legislative Assistant

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Sally Canfield, Legislative Director

Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-FL)
Elizabeth Brown, Health Legislative Assistant


Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Binta Beard, Health Legislative Assistant

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Shauna McCarthy, Health Policy Advisor

Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL)
Margie Almanza, Health Legislative Assistant


Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Craig Martinez, Health Legislative Assistant
Andi Lipstein Fristedt, Health Policy Fellow


Senator John Kerry (D-MA)
Meghan Thompson, Health Legislative Assistant


Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Scott M. Palyo, M.D., Health Care Legislative Fellow


Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Veronica Valdivieso, Health Legislative Assistant


Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Kathryn Tanner, Children & Families Legislative Assistant


Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Meeting with Dana Halverson, Health Legislative Assistant


Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Susan Lexer, Health Legislative Assistant


Congressman Mark S. Critz (D-PA)
Nathan S. Catanese, Health Legislative Assistant


Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Mary-Sumpter Lapinski, Health Legislative Assistant

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)
Anne Oswalt, Health Legislative Assistant

Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Cara Dalmolin, Legislative Director

Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN)
Ruth McDonald, Health Legislative Assistant


Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Hayden Rhudy, Health Legislative Assistant

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
Alisia Essig, Children/Families Legislative

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