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by Amanda Conschafter, Blog Editor

Health gained, not pounds lost should be the focus of conversations on obesity, says a new health initiative called My Healthy™.  An interactive, motivational campaign, My Healthy encourages obese patients to pursue realistic health goals through a series of small, health-focused actions – such as going for a walk or talking to one’s doctor.  The campaign addresses a growing epidemic in the United States;  as an Institute for Patient Access policy brief reported earlier this year, 36 percent of adults and 16 percent of children now struggle with obesity and related health complications.

Diagnosed as a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher, obesity carries social and personal consequences, as well as myriad health concerns.  The risks of Type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease all rise with obesity.  And with these risks come substantial health care costs.  In 2008, the medical costs of obesity reached $147 million.

Treatment options for obesity typically fall into one of three categories: drug therapy, nutrition counseling and weight loss surgery.  Patients vary in their responsiveness to these options, so addressing widespread obesity requires insurers to cover treatment in all three categories – increasing patients’ odds of finding the option that works for them.  Many Medicaid programs, however, offer limited coverage for obesity treatments, potentially limiting their participants’ chances for wellness.

My Healthy encourages people to talk with their doctors to determine which treatment options and lifestyle changes best suit individual needs.  Judging from the hundreds of people making the campaign’s My Healthy Promise , many people struggling with obesity will do just that.  Their promise, combined with access to proper care, can jumpstart the process of translating incremental lifestyle changes into lasting health.

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