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Letter to Editor: Living with obesity is not a lifestyle choice

Living with obesity is not a lifestyle choice. Yet, as someone who works directly with many patients living with this chronic disease, too many of them often blame themselves for the burden that they carry. They face great vulnerability and existential challenges, including being objectified and alienated as human beings. Instead of leaving folks to battle this medical condition on their own, we need to recognize that obesity is an epidemic in our country and determine the best ways that we can help individuals manage it.

By recognizing obesity as a medical condition, we can begin to offer potential treatments such as anti-obesity medications (AOMs) that studies have shown to help individuals effectively battle obesity. AOMs have been recommended by health expert organizations as a key treatment option, but the problem is without affordable coverage for these types of treatment, not everyone who has obesity has access to them. That is why Congress must act swiftly to pass the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA).

TROA would expand Medicare coverage of these life-saving anti-obesity therapies and medications, making them more widely available. This access is especially critical to lower-income patients who are already more likely to suffer from chronic obesity. The time is long overdue to build a support system for individuals living with obesity and tackling the health crisis head on. Reforming our language around obesity and backing it up with federal legislation is where we need to start.

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