Obesity Resources: The Obesity Action Coalition

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The home-page statement of the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) says it all: “The Obesity Action Coalition is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals affected by the disease of obesity.” For those who struggle with obesity personally, or who know someone with obesity, the Obesity Action Coalition can be a valuable resource.

What Is the Obesity Action Coalition?

According to its website, the OAC is a non-profit organization of greater than 50,000 members, and is “dedicated to giving a voice to the individual affected by the disease of obesity and helping individuals along their journey toward better health through education, advocacy and support.”

The OAC was founded in 2005 when it was noted by a congressperson that there was no known group that represented patients with obesity, “a group whose only focus is on those affected by obesity,” as the OAC website notes. The OAC was formed at that time “with the goal of building a national coalition of those who are living with and/or affected by obesity.”

The official mission statement of the OAC, as noted on its website, is: “The mission of the OAC is to elevate and empower those affected by obesity through education, advocacy and support.”

No “Fat Shaming”

The OAC has been seen to advocate for those with obesity, and believes in “the creation of a society in which all individuals are treated with respect and without discrimination or bias regardless of their size or weight.”

“Fat shaming” refers to the various ways in which those who are overweight or obese are harassed, blamed, or otherwise caused to feel inordinately guilty and ashamed because of their excess weight.

Several studies have shown that fat shaming actually backfires, and tends to result in additional weight gain rather than weight loss.

The OAC has released a number of position statements on various aspects of obesity, from the nature of obesity to prevention and treatment, as well as societal impacts.

Advocating for Access to Treatment

The OAC also works to educate and advocate for “the right to access safe and effective treatment options” for obesity. A number of obesity treatment options now exist, from lifestyle changes to medications to surgical options.

What Resources Does OAC Provide?

The OAC’s website provides a wealth of education information for individuals struggling with obesity, including information on understanding obesity, on obesity in children, on treatment options, and on weight bias and stigma, among others. There are ways to engage in advocacy and find support through the “Advocacy & Support” link on the OAC website.

Through the “Your Weight Matters” campaign, the OAC has aired public service messages and provided educational documents as well as patient resources as part of a “national initiative, which encourages each and every American to talk to their healthcare provider about their weight.”

Those who take the “Your Weight Matters Campaign Challenge” receive a free toolkit with information on weight-related issues and how to discuss weight with one’s healthcare professional.

Who Can Join the OAC?

The OAC states that it is a membership organization, and offers several different membership levels, beginning at $10 (special offer for new individual memberships “in honor of the OAC’s 10-year anniversary”). According to the OAC website, this special offer is available through 12/30/2015.

Sources:

Jackson SE, Beeken RJ, Wardle J. Perceived weight discrimination and changes in weight, waist circumference, and weight status. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2014 Sep 11. [Epub ahead of print]

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