Seventy-six percent of Americans believe obesity a problem in their state, while only 10% do not, according to new poll; 52% believe federal government should invest more in treatments to reduce obesity

PITTSBURGH , April 9, 2014 (press release) – Nine months after the American Medical Association declared obesity a disease, a strong majority of Americans believe Medicare should expand coverage of healthcare options to treat obesity.

According to a national Ipsos poll released today by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), 64 percent of Americans support Medicare coverage of obesity medicines. The poll also found:

76 percent of Americans believe obesity is a problem in their state, while only 10 percent do not

52 percent believe the government should invest more in treatments to reduce obesity

Only 21 percent of those surveyed were aware the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had recently approved prescription medicines for weight loss

Under the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, Medicare is specifically prohibited from covering prescription obesity medicines. In the 11 years since, however, two medicines have been approved as safe and effective by the FDA.

“Payers – from Medicare to state exchanges to private plans – simply must begin covering medicines for obesity treatments,” former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. “We must give doctors and patients all the tools they need to tackle this epidemic. Obesity medicines are a vital tool being neglected through current policy and reimbursement strategies.”

Together, Thompson and PFCD Chairman Kenneth Thorpe call on Congress to pass the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act – which would require Medicare to cover FDA-approved prescription drugs to treat obesity. The legislation has 76 cosponsors in Congress.

“There is a critical gap that needs to be addressed here and also an important message for policymakers. We devote a great deal of attention -- worthwhile attention, to be sure -- to the issue of childhood obesity, but as we struggle with the challenge of keeping programs like Medicaid and Medicare financially sustainable, comparatively little focus is devoted to the problem of obesity and its related chronic diseases among older populations,” said Kenneth Thorpe, PhD, PFCD Chairman.

The poll of 1,014 U.S. adults was conducted by Ipsos from March 21-25. It has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

About Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease

The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) is an international NGO of patients, providers, community organizations, business and labor groups, and health policy experts committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death, disability, and rising health care costs: chronic, noncommunicable disease.

For a collection of statistics and commentary on the impact of chronic disease, please visit almanac.fightchronicdisease.org.

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