09/21/2021 - Increasing access to obesity care would not only improve the quality of life for millions of Americans but it would address health equity and drive down health care costs. The urgency to address access to obesity care has been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic, with obesity being one of the leading contributing factors for patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
Despite the major impact that obesity has on our nation's health, obesity care is out of reach for millions of Americans due to antiquated Medicare rules that do not approach obesity as a complex, chronic disease. To raise awareness on the need to expand access to life-saving obesity care, the Academy and 28 of its state affiliates joined more than 100 national, state and local organizations in urging leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate as well as the Biden Administration to pass the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act. These advocacy efforts were the focus of a press briefing held on September 17, where panel experts highlighted the dire need to pass this bill to improve America's health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 78% of people who were hospitalized, placed on a ventilator or died from COVID-19 were overweight or had obesity. Black and Latino people are three times as likely to be hospitalized for severe cases of COVID-19 compared to their white counterparts. Obesity affects Black and Latino adults at a significantly higher rate, with nearly half of the United States' Black population having obesity and 44.8% of the Latino population having obesity.
The Academy will continue to advocate for access to care for individuals with obesity, including access to care for registered dietitian nutritionists and funding for programs that address social determinants of health.