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Recap: AGA hosts Capitol Hill briefing on America’s obesity crisis

One of our congressional champions, Rep. Brad Wenstrup, expressed support for expanding obesity treatment during his remarks.
Participants at Capitol Hill obesity briefing
Participants at Capitol Hill obesity briefing

Today, nearly 42% of Americans have obesity, which has been linked to gastrointestinal conditions like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Despite obesity’s connection to hundreds of health – and GI – conditions, it has long been misunderstood as a condition that can only be treated with diet or lifestyle changes.

There is an urgent need to expand access to obesity treatment and care.

Properly treating obesity begins with education.

That’s why AGA hosted a briefing addressing America’s obesity crisis to educate and advocate to Congressional offices about the urgent need to expand Medicare coverage to include the screening and treatment of obesity through the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA).

We were joined by one of our champions in Congress, Rep. Brad Wenstrup, DPM, R-OH, who emphasized the need to use the wide range of resources available to treat patients with obesity and how TROA would enable more comprehensive patient care.

In addition to Rep. Wenstrup, AGA members Pooja Singhal, MD, director of women’s digestive health at SSM Health in Oklahoma City, and Janese Laster, MD, founder of Gut Theory Total Digestive Care in Washington, D.C., shared their experiences as providers and the multifaceted approaches they use to treat patients in their practices, which include nutrition and dietary education in addition to medication and endoscopic and bariatric procedures.

Treatment plans vary from patient to patient, and while weight loss medications have a role, they are rarely the sole treatment for obesity, they emphasized.

“Contrary to what’s on social media, it’s not that you go in, get a prescription, you’re on it and you have this amazing weight loss in two months. That is just not the reality,” Dr. Singhal explained during the Q&A.

Representatives from the Obesity Action Coalition, Patty Nece, immediate past chair and Joe Nadglowski, president and CEO, also shared how TROA would make a difference in the lives of patients diagnosed with obesity by expanding Medicare coverage to a range of treatments, along with setting a precedent for insurance companies to follow.

Thank you to our members and partners at OAC for advocating to improve patient care. We continue to call on Congress to address America’s obesity health crisis by reintroducing TROA.

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