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National and Local Leaders Confront Obesity and its Impact on Chronic Diseases

Elected Officials, Healthcare Specialists & Diverse Communities Speak Out at Addressing Obesity in America Conference

(Oct 23, 2013 - Los Angeles) – Yesterday, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) hosted a symposium of more than 200 health stakeholders in Los Angeles to discuss proactive solutions to addressing America’s obesity crisis.

The event included policymakers, healthcare leaders and experts such as California State Senator Alex Padilla, Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary and Wisconsin Governor Tommy G. Thompson, Covered California Board Member Kim Belshé, and Director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding.

“Obesity is an issue of paramount importance in the fight against chronic disease. Failing to address this epidemic would be on par with downgrading smoking as a critical healthcare threat,” said Ken Thorpe, PFCD Chairman. “Obesity is increasingly impacting health outcomes, the affordability of insurance coverage, and the bottom line of our entire economy. Focusing on obesity and advancing solutions for prevention and better healthcare management must be a top priority.”

As part of the PFCD’s national series of obesity-focused events, speakers brought to life the health, societal and economic impacts of obesity on diverse patient groups. The event highlighted several legislative policies and community-oriented approaches that could reduce rising obesity rates and increase treatment options.

"Obesity is a condition that Medicare and other insurers would be wise to cover and treat early and often, because the tidal wave of diseases that come in its wake are much more costly in dollars and lives,” said Tommy G. Thompson, former U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary and Wisconsin Governor. “We simply must stop waiting for people to get sick and then spend infinitely more trying to make them well again."

Now recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association and the subject of several pieces of legislation in Congress, obesity is inherently linked with chronic disease. Chronic diseases – such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes – are the leading cause of death, disability, and rising healthcare costs in America.

“Obesity is a difficult chronic disease that encompasses both genetic and lifestyle factors,” said John J. Castellani, President & CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). “The unique challenges posed by obesity, combined with the disease’s troubling impact on health and healthcare spending, make it vital that all elements of the healthcare ecosystem work together to find solutions.”

While California’s obesity rates are below the national average (see graphic below), they are still trending in the wrong direction:

The PFCD recently launched an Almanac of Chronic Disease to raise awareness of the impact of chronic disease on the U.S. healthcare system, individuals and the economy. The Almanac features an interactive display on the prevalence of a variety of chronic conditions and risk factors – obesity in particular.

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The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) is an internationally-recognized NGO of patients, providers, community organizations, business and labor groups, and health policy experts committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death, disability, and rising health care costs: chronic disease. 

For more information on PFCD and future events, please visit and follow on twitter @PFCD and @PFCD_Global