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Obesity is Killing Ohio. Congress Must Step in to Help

State Representative Dontavius Jarrells is a member of the Ohio State House of Representatives, representing District 1 (D-Columbus), and serves as the assistant minority leader.

As a State legislator, I am compelled to shed light on an issue that affects countless Ohioans, including myself—obesity. This topic holds personal significance for me, as I have witnessed the struggles individuals endure in obtaining the resources they need to address this health challenge.

Obesity is not a mere statistic; it is a relentless adversary that haunts millions of lives. It is a battle fought not only in the shadows of self-doubt but also in the harsh judgments of society. People often view obesity as a reflection of personal failure, a lack of discipline or willpower. But let me tell you, it is not a choice. It is a chronic disease.

The consequences of obesity are devastating. It is the second leading cause of preventable death in our nation, according to the National Institute of Health. Yet, it seems that the urgency to address this crisis falls behind other health concerns.

In Ohio, the obesity situation is dire.

Almost half of our state’s population – our neighbors, friends, and loved ones – is currently living with obesity.

More:Ohio’s youth obesity rate is 10th highest in nation, report shows

Even our seniors, who have weathered the storms of life, are not spared from this relentless disease.

Over the past generation, obesity rates among Americans over 65 have nearly doubled. To make matters worse, the very system designed to provide care and support, Medicare, denies coverage for essential anti-obesity medications. We must fight for our seniors, for their right to a healthy and dignified life.

New medications can help fight obesity

But amidst this struggle, there is a glimmer of hope—the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, federal legislation that was introduced this July in Congress.

It would update Medicare to cover evidence-based obesity treatments, including FDA-approved medications, and would expand access to intensive behavioral therapy for obesity, empowering more healthcare providers to deliver essential support to Medicare beneficiaries.

Moreover, addressing obesity is a matter of health equity.

Black and Hispanic populations are disproportionately affected by chronic diseases stemming from untreated obesity. By fighting against obesity, we fight for justice and equality, ensuring that everyone has an equal chance at a healthy and fulfilling life.

Let us not overlook the economic toll of obesity.

The costs, both direct and indirect, are staggering—a crushing burden on individuals and our healthcare system, estimated at $1.4 trillion. By reducing obesity rates, we can alleviate this financial strain.

As we eagerly await the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act’s progress through Congress, I implore Ohio’s entire congressional delegation to take a stand.

Led by our esteemed Sen. Sherrod Brown, let us unite in support of this critical legislation. Brown has been a champion for our working families and retirees, and his endorsement of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act would be a testament to his unwavering commitment to the well-being of Ohioans.

The time for action is now. We cannot allow obesity to claim more lives, shatter more dreams, and perpetuate a cycle of despair.

We owe it to ourselves, our loved ones, and the countless individuals whose voices go unheard in the depths of this struggle.

Source : Dispatch



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