The NMA Creates A National Obesity Task Force

overweight woman getting a checkup( — The National Medical Association (NMA) has announced the creation of a national obesity task force directed by their 111th President, Dr. Leonard Weather Jr. The task force will develop a comprehensive approach to combating obesity in the African American community.

“The statistics related to the African American community and obesity are overwhelming and shocking,” says Dr. Weather. “This is a medical crisis and the NMA will sound the alarm across the nation as we fight for the health of our patients. The NMA Task Force on Obesity consists of primary care physicians, bariatric and general surgeons, psychiatrists, fitness and nutrition experts and a former US Surgeon General and health policy expert. This diverse panel brings a wealth of expertise that will provide invaluable advice on how to actively address the crisis of obesity from both the doctor’s office to Capitol Hill.”

The NMA Diabetes Education program has already trained thousands of physicians and healthcare professionals and reached millions of African Americans.

The Need To Address Obesity
As the nation’s leading voice on health disparities based on race, the NMA clearly sees the need to aggressively continue to address obesity, given the unequal burden of disease in the Black community. A few startling facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

• African Americans are 1.5 times as likely to be obese as Non- Hispanic Whites.
• African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S.
• About four out of five African American women are overweight or obese.
• African American women were 60% more likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic White women.
• African American children were 30% as likely to be overweight than Non-Hispanic Whites.

The Need To Address Diabetes
One of the most serious complications of obesity is diabetes. As a result, the NMA continues to focus their efforts on awareness, physician education, prevention and optimal treatment of diabetes:

• More than 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight.

• People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, and LDL cholesterol — all risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

• African Americans were 50% less likely to engage in active physical activity as Non-Hispanic Whites.

• Deaths from heart disease and stroke are almost twice the rate for African Americans as compared to Whites.

• African American adults are twice as likely as non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician.

• African American men were 2.2 times as likely to start treatment for end-stage renal disease related to diabetes, as compared to non-Hispanic white men.

• Diabetic African Americans were 1.5 times as likely as diabetic Whites to be hospitalized.

• African Americans were 2.3 times as likely as non-Hispanic Whites to die from diabetes.

The Need To Address The Diabetes-Obesity Link
“The link between diabetes and obesity is indisputable,” says Dr. Weather. “Combating obesity in the African American community will definitely impact new cases of diabetes and decrease the complications in patients already
living with the disease. There are several interventions in the treatment of obesity, including surgical interventions, which have consistently made a difference in the diabetic patient’s prognosis.”

The Task Force’s Role At The 2011 NMA Convention
Additionally, the NMA will focus on obesity at the 2011 Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly, which will be held July 23-27 in Washington, DC. The organization will host an interactive program “Walk a Mile with a Child,” which will engage the local community and highlight the incidence of obesity in AA children. Another key feature of the conference will be an Obesity Plenary session which will address health policies associated with the treatment of obesity and access to care. During this plenary, treatment and intervention options will be discussed with the physicians and policymakers in attendance.

We Stand With You
Obesity is also one of the primary focuses of the NMA’s innovative “We Stand with You” initiative. This is a groundbreaking program that unites physicians and their patients with the goal of improving the health of the nation with education, awareness and health policy initiatives.

The NMA welcomes private, government, social and civic organizations as well as individuals to join this initiative.

“We encourage organizations and individuals to stand with the NMA and commit to work with us as we address obesity in the African American community. This is a huge problem which requires many diverse approaches,” said Dr. Weather.

Members of the NMA Obesity Task Force

Leonard Weather, Jr., RPh, MD, 111th President of the NMA- Ob/Gyn
Sharon Allison-Ottey, MD – Internal Medicine/ Geriatric Medicine
Oliver Brooks, MD – Pediatrics
Elvan Catherine Daniels, MD, MPH – Family Medicine
Robert Ferguson, MS, CN – Nutrition & Fitness
Terrance Fullum, MD – Bariatric Surgery
M. Christopher Griffith, MD – Psychiatry
Bradley Jackson, MD – Pediatrics
Larry Jones, MD – General Surgery
David Satcher, MD, Ph.D – Former US Surgeon General
Robert Richard, MD – Bariatric Surgery
Yvette Rooks, MD – Family Medicine/Sports Medicine

To learn more about diabetes, please visit the BDO Diabetes Channel.