Obesity Action Coalition Strives To Save The Day

Obesity surgery needs more advocates. Joe Nadglowski leads the Obesity Action Coalition, which presses on in the struggle for legislation to make obesity care readily available.

Obesity is an epidemic in the United States, with a reported two-thirds of Americans who have weight problems. Being heavily overweight is the falling domino that knocks the others down – accused of causing diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and even cancer in some cases. To reduce obesity nationwide might help salvage the future of healthcare in this country. So with groups like the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) charging into the fray, some hope peeks through.

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Coalition president Joe Nadglowski Jr. explained that his nonprofit organization only exists because, four years ago, a legislator stood up during a session and claimed he’d never heard an obese person actually ask for help.

“We realized, at that point, that there really wasn’t a unified voice for those who are struggling with their weight – working on behalf of others who are struggling with their weight,” he said. “So, with that, the OAC was born, with the mission to educate and advocate on behalf of those affected by obesity and morbid obesity.”

So far, the coalition has been a moving force, and Nadglowski has noticed some strong progress from other advocates. A Mississippi legislator – himself a weight-loss surgery success story – fought for policy that will allow employees of that state to have paid access to such operations. He fought and won; the policy changes next year. And in Texas, the state employee fund will soon include a bariatric surgery benefit. Nadglowski said there are only seven states now that don’t allow some kind of funding for weight loss surgeries among their employees.

He sees this as progress – but hopes to do more good through the new “Make a Footprint” campaign. The idea behind the program is that since the future of American healthcare always hard to predict, the best time to jump on the ball and make noise about obesity and public policy is now.

“We are looking at the possibility of a very expensive bill for healthcare reform,” he said. “And we don’t want obesity treatments to be left off that bill. So we’re working very, very hard to educate our federal legislators. … It simply takes an e-mail or a phone call.”

For more information, visit www.ObesityAction.org.