Steering Committee Members
America’s Health Insurance Plans
Since 2003, America’s Health Insurance Plans’ (AHIP) Obesity Initiative has supported member health insurance plans’ obesity prevention and treatment efforts. AHIP’s ongoing series of forums, programs, grants, educational audio conferences, and roundtables brings health plans and other stakeholders together to discuss the challenges of obesity, review the evidence, develop effective strategies, and share models that work. For the past several years, the topics of overweight and obesity, as well as prevention and wellness initiatives related to healthy lifestyles and behavior change, have been ongoing focus areas and play an integral role in the curriculum of AHIP’s annual conferences and educational programs, including the Medical Leadership Forum, National Policy Forum, and AHIP’s Institute.
Click here for more information on America’s Health Insurance Plans.
American Diabetes Association
The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.
When it comes to the prevention of diabetes, being overweight or obese is a leading modifiable risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a healthy body weight through good nutrition and physical activity provides numerous valuable health benefits, including chronic disease prevention. Studies have shown that losing five to ten percent of one’s body weight can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association provides access to the most up to date diabetes and nutrition research to assist people in achieving their goals for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Click here for more information on the American Diabetes Association.
American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a national voluntary health agency that provides cardiovascular research, information and advocacy and whose mission is to reduce disability and death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Perspective: Fighting Obesity through Education and Advocacy
The American Heart Association recognizes obesity as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attack. Also, even when there are no adverse effects on the known risk factors, obesity by itself increases risk of heart disease. It also harms more than just the heart and blood vessel system. It’s a major cause of gallstones and can worsen degenerative joint disease.
The American Heart Association is fighting obesity through their work in support of greater funding for both the National Institute for Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also publishes various educational materials focused on managing weight, physical activity and tips for a healthy heart.
It is also a member of various coalitions that are focused on promoting physical activity, healthy school meals, a combination of good nutrition and activity, and time for children to play.
Overall, the American Heart Association’s work in this area is predicated on advancing its mission, in particular, to achieving the current strategic goal: reduction of coronary artery disease, stroke and risk by 25 percent by 2010. Pillars of both prevention and risk reduction include diet and physical activity.
Click here for more information on the American Heart Association.
American Medical Group Association
AMGA (also known as the American Medical Group Association) is a trade association leading the transformation of health care in America. Representing multispecialty medical groups and integrated systems of care, they advocate, educate, innovate, and empower members to deliver the next level of high performance health. AMGA is the national voice promoting awareness of members’ recognized excellence in the delivery of coordinated, high-quality, high-value care. More than 175,000 physicians practice in AMGA member organizations, delivering care to one in three Americans.
The association conducts research projects and learning collaboratives to better understand current practices in early identification and treatment of risk factors that are known to increase patients’ risk of:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Elevated blood pressure
- Low HDL-C
- Elevated blood glucose levels.
Based on recent research published in peer-reviewed journals, it is understood that the growth in Medicare spending is largely due to treatment of these health conditions. The rise in the number of patients needing treatment for obesity and other serious risk factors highlights the need to develop models and standards of care designed to address the clinical problems facing patients with multiple complex morbidities.
To address this, AMGA is currently holding a learning collaborative on obesity: The Obesity Care Model Collaborative. Ten health care organizations are engaged in developing and testing models of care to help manage the health of patients with obesity. The 3-year collaborative will end in December 2019.
American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery
The vision of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery is to improve public health and well being by lessening the burden of the disease of obesity and related diseases throughout the world.
Founded in 1983, foremost American surgeons have formed the society’s leadership and have established an excellent organization with educational and support programs for surgeons and integrated health professionals.
The purpose of the Society is to advance the art and science of bariatric surgery by continued encouragement of its members to carry out the following mission:
- To improve the care and treatment of people with obesity and related diseases.
- To advance the science and understanding of metabolic surgery.
- To foster communication between health professionals on obesity and related conditions.
- To be the recognized authority and resource on metabolic and bariatric surgery.
- To advocate for health care policy that ensures patient access to high quality prevention and treatment of obesity.
- To be a highly valued specialty society that serves the educational and professional needs of our diverse membership.
Click here for more information on the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery.
Donna Ryan, M.D.
Donna Ryan, MD, FTOS, is Professor Emerita at Pennington Biomedical in Baton Rouge, LA, and current President of World Obesity Federation. Her research focuses on nutrition, obesity and obesity comorbidities, with a special focus on primary care approaches to obesity management. She has been an investigator for various US National Institutes of Health-sponsored studies, including Pounds Lost, DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), DPP (Diabetes Prevention Program) and the Look AHEAD study. Dr. Ryan’s continuing interests focus on translation of effective weight management into primary care practices.
Dr. Ryan is Associate Editor-in-Chief of the journal Obesity and has authored more than 200 publications, primarily on obesity. She served as Co-Chair on the expert panel for the ACC/AHA/TOS evidence-based Guidelines on the Evaluation and Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults and was a panel member of the 2015 Endocrine Society Systematic Evidence Review and Guidelines for Medications that Affect Body Weight.
For the past five years Dr. Ryan has been active in continuing education for practitioners in obesity management. She has served as a consultant and advisor to industry and has been a scientific advisor to many companies, and as a member of Data Safety Monitoring Committees. She is Co-Chair of the Steering Committee SELECT, a cardiovascular outcome trial of semaglutide.
Gary Foster, PhD
Dr. Gary D. Foster, Ph.D. has been the Chief Science Officer of Weight Watchers International, Inc. since July 3, 2014. Dr. Foster served as a Co-Chief Science Officer at Weight Watchers International, Inc. since August 2013 until July 3, 2014. Dr. Foster has more than 30 years of experience. Dr. Foster previously was the Founder and Director of the Center of Obesity Research and Education and Laura Carnell Professor of Medicine, Public Health and Psychology t Temple University in Philadelphia. Prior to Temple, he served as a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania School of Mediciane. He has authored or coauthored more than 160 scientific publications and three books on the etiology and treatment of obesity. Dr. Foster’s research interests include the prevention, behavioral determinants, treatments, and effects of obesity in adults and children. Dr. Foster’s recent research topics include the effects of weight loss on diabetes and sleep, and the prevention of obesity in school and community settings. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. His research on the school-based prevention of obesity (Pediatrics, 2008) was cited by the American Heart Association as one of the top 10 advances in cardiovascular research in 2008. He also has clinical experience treating overweight patients in individual and group settings for more than 25 years. Dr. Foster also frequently presents at scientific meetings worldwide and has received numerous awards and honors, including: serving as President of the Obesity Society (2008), receiving an Honorary Membership from the American Dietetic Association, and recognition for his Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology from the American Psychological Association. Dr. Foster earned his B.A. in Psychology from Duquesne University, M.S. in Psychology from University of Pennsylvania, and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Temple University.
National Business Group on Health
The National Business Group on Health is the national voice of large employers dedicated to finding innovative and forward-thinking solutions to the nation’s most important health care issues.
Perspective: The Institute on the Cost and Health Effects of Obesity
Consistent with its mission to find solutions to health and systemic health care cost challenges, the National Business Group on Health launched the Institute on the Costs and Health Effects of Obesity in 2003, spearheading a national obesity initiative. This initiative brings together some of the world’s leading corporations, health plans and federal health agencies to serve as solutions and information resources for employers and creates proactive prevention strategies in order to champion healthy weight in the workplace.
The Institute on the Costs and Health Effects of Obesity is structured for a corporate audience and produces comprehensive tools for employers to estimate the cost of obesity, to open up avenues for employee communication on healthy weight and to design employer sponsored wellness programs that meet HIPPA requirements. Not only does the initiative focus on obesity, but it also focuses on the chronic conditions and diseases that obesity causes such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Since 2003 an Obesity Summit has been held annually in addition to other business group forums and conferences which give members the opportunity to share their experiences and proven solutions. The Institute also published issue briefs written by experts on pertinent weight-related topics. Tool kits have also been developed to help employers effectively and sensitively address obesity issues.
The Institute has also created web-based seminars on weight-related topics including Promoting Healthy Dining, Drug Therapy in the Management of Overweight and Employer Best Practices. There are also e-newsletters sent out quarterly, which are designed to share new materials and re-communicate existing tools.
Click here for more information on the National Business Group on Health.
Obesity Action Coalition
The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) is a more than 60,000 member-strong 501(c)(3) National non-profit organization dedicated to giving a voice to the individual affected by the disease of obesity and helping individuals along their journey toward better health through education, advocacy and support. Our core focuses are to raise awareness and improve access to the prevention and treatment of obesity, provide evidence-based education on obesity and its treatments, fight to eliminate weight bias and discrimination, elevate the conversation of weight and its impact on health and offer a community of support for the individual affected.
Click here for more information on the Obesity Action Coalition.
Population Health Alliance
Population Health Alliance convenes all stakeholders providing services along the care continuum toward the goal of population health improvement. These care continuum services include strategies, such as health and wellness promotion, care management and care coordination.
Population Health Alliance promotes the role of population health improvement in raising the quality of care, improving health outcomes and reducing preventable health care costs for individuals with chronic conditions and those at risk of developing chronic conditions. The Alliance activities in support of these efforts include advocacy, research and the promotion of best practices in care management.
Population Health Alliance represents more than 200 corporate and individual stakeholders—including wellness, disease and care management organizations, pharmaceutical manufacturers and benefits managers, health information technology innovators, biotechnology innovators, employers, physicians, nurses and other health care professionals, and researchers and academicians.
Click here for more information on the Population Health Alliance
The Obesity Society
The Obesity Society is the leading scientific organization dedicated to the study of obesity. The Obesity Society has been committed to encouraging research on the causes and treatment of obesity and is keeping the medical community and public informed of new advances. The Obesity Society’s vision is to be the leader in understanding, preventing and treating obesity and in improving the lives of those affected. The Obesity Society’s membership comprises more than 2000 basic and clinical researchers, who have published extensively, and care providers in obesity treatment and prevention.
Click here for more information on The Obesity Society.
Trust for America’s Health
Trust for America’s Health is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes optimal health for every person and community and makes the prevention of illness and injury a national priority. TFAH’s work is often focused on the antecedents of poor health and on prevention. TFAH develops reports and other resources and initiatives, and recommends policies, to advance an evidence-based public health system that is ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Recent TFAH reports include ones on obesity, emergency preparedness, public health funding, national health priorities and the drug, alcohol and suicide crisis.
Trust for America’s Health issues an annual “State of Obesity” report that tracks the latest in obesity trends and policies. The report also offers evidence-based policy and program recommendations to help Americans eat healthier and provide more physical activity opportunities at every level of government.
Click here for more information on Trust for America’s Health.