OCAN Blankets Capitol Hill
ASMBS Leaders Spearhead Multi-Disciplinary Advocacy Teams in Supporting TROA and NOCW

Published in April Issue             

On February 27, 2017, the obesity community joined together for the first Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) Advocacy Day of 2017 -- with 120 attendees visiting more than 150 congressional offices. During their visits, OCAN members educated legislators and congressional staff about both the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) and a congressional resolution that would designate the week of October 29 – November 4, 2017 as National Obesity Care Week (NOCW).

Sandwiched in between morning and afternoon Hill visits, attendees paused to join legislative staff for a special congressional lunch briefing sponsored by OCAN and Novo Nordisk, inc. regarding the "Economics of Obesity and its Implications for Productivity and Competitiveness." The briefing, which featured economists, patient advocates and the former Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, highlighted how obesity and excess weight is an expanding health problem for more than 60 percent of Americans, and how a new study by Hugh Waters and Ross DeVol finds that it's a tremendous drain on the U.S. economy as well. The authors of the study discussed how the total cost to treat health conditions related to obesity—ranging from diabetes to Alzheimer's—plus obesity's drag on attendance and productivity at work exceeds $1.4 trillion annually.

The day ended with a late afternoon reception hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Political Action Committee (AND PAC), which featured Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) – Senate sponsor of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act and Senate National Obesity Care Week resolution. Over 50 OCAN members attended the AND PAC sponsored reception, including American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) President Stacy Brethauer and other ASMBS leaders such as John Scott, Ann Rogers and Teresa LaMasters.

The four ASMBS members each headed up a multi-disciplinary advocacy team, which included a surgeon, obesity medicine specialist/researcher, registered dietitian/nutritionist and patient advocate. The four advocacy teams visited congressional staff in more than 30 Senate offices – highlighting the need for coverage of all science-based obesity treatment avenues across the care continuum. ObesityPAC Board member John Scott was also on hand during the afternoon reception to present Senator Tom Carper with a $1,000 contribution from the ASMBS Political Action Committee in support of the Senator’s reelection campaign.