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STOP Obesity Alliance Sets 100 Day Action Plan

Armen Hareyan's picture

With more than 33 million Web site options offered under the search term "obesity," the widespread interest in addressing this growing national epidemic is clear.

Less clear is any expert consensus on the societal role and systems changes needed to reverse this health crisis.

To help cut through the clutter, the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, a powerful collaboration of consumer, provider, business, labor, health insurance and quality organizations, met for the first time in Washington to lay out a roadmap for identifying new approaches in America's race against obesity that must accompany the personal responsibility of individuals.

"The growth of obesity and its related health problems have exploded over the past ten years, signaling an urgent need to change how we manage the condition," said STOP Obesity Alliance director Christine Ferguson. "But there has been a real disconnect between our ability to make societal changes and what we know from a medical and public health perspective. Whether this is rooted in the belief that obesity is a matter of personal responsibility or that treatments are ineffective, it's in our national interest to find a new direction."

At a recent meeting at George Washington University Hospital, The Alliance's Steering Committee committed to developing innovative and practical strategies to help reverse America's rising trend in overweight, obesity and preventable weight-related chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Group members said the approach will complement other efforts focusing on personal actions by:

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-- Identifying and addressing the different barriers -- some systemic, some cultural -- that prevent effective weight management;

-- Re-defining success based on criteria other than societal norms;

-- Highlighting research-based initiatives to improve patient care and prevention; and

-- Identifying, recommending and promoting innovations in health care delivery and financing systems.

Steering Committee members agreed to undertake a set of actions targeted to thought and policy leaders. In the next 100 days, the Alliance will:

-- Issue a Stigma of Obesity brief in the fall and a formal white paper by end of the year, presenting scientific evidence on the effect stigma has on obesity-related health outcomes.