Raymond A. Wood Foundation Partners with STOP Obesity Alliance

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In September 2022, Raymond A. Wood Foundation partnered with George Washington University’s STOP (Strategies to Overcome & Prevent) Obesity Alliance at the Milken Institute. The Alliance’s goals are to lead innovation, strengthen systems of care, convene diverse stakeholders, define an innovative research agenda, promote strategies to increase physical activity, and reduce the stigma to improve health outcomes. The September 2022 alliance newsletter featured the work the Raymond A. Wood Foundation is doing to advance understanding and treatment for Hypothalamic Obesity.

In November 2022, six leading US organizations with a primary focus on obesity came together with the intention of addressing the various roadblocks that they each faced in addressing efforts to improve access to obesity treatment and the reduction of the stigma and bias surrounding this disease. The organizations were: The Obesity Society, Obesity Action Coalition, Obesity Medicine Association, American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, STOP Obesity Alliance, and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

As part of our discussion, we agreed that it would be beneficial to come to a consensus on the definition of obesity. Our discussions led us to develop the consensus statement below to give us a shared starting point for how we talk about obesity, consistent with how we discuss other chronic diseases.  As the core organizations that address obesity, we achieved consensus on this statement and have agreed to use it as the central tenet in our communications around obesity.

Obesity is a highly prevalent chronic disease characterized by excessive fat accumulation or distribution that presents a risk to health and requires lifelong care. Virtually every system in the body is affected by obesity. Major chronic diseases associated with obesity include diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

The body mass index (weight in kg/height in meters2) is used to screen for obesity, but it does not displace clinical judgment. BMI is not a measure of body fat. Social determinants, race, ethnicity, and age may modify the risk associated with a given BMI. Bias and stigmatization directed at people with obesity contributes to poor health and impairs treatment. Every person with obesity should have access to evidence-based treatment.