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The Right to Accessible Obesity Care and Services from Health Systems

The Right to Accessible Obesity Care and Services from Health Systems

All people living with obesity have the right to receive obesity care in health systems that are equipped and accessible for larger body sizes.

Well over 15 million US adults have severe obesity, a serious medical condition characterized by more than 100 pounds of excess weight or having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. Yet, because these individuals face rampant discrimination in the health system, they are unlikely to receive quality obesity care. Instead, the 9.2 percent of adults with severe obesity routinely encounter health spaces and diagnostic equipment that do not accommodate larger body sizes, receive drug doses often based upon standard body sizes, are misdiagnosed by health providers unequipped to provide care, and are refused surgeries that are medically necessary due to their size.

Putting an end to these injustices is a goal of the obesity community, which calls for redesigning health care settings as places of dignity and respect for all people with obesity, regardless of size. For this to happen, adults with obesity must have the rights to:

  • A clinical setting that allows for privacy and maintains the person’s dignity. This includes access to wider furniture in waiting rooms, wider doors, gowns in larger sizes, a private weighing room and other welcoming accommodations.
  • Health spaces and equipment within the clinical environment that are size-and weight-accessible, such as larger hospital beds, lifts and stretchers, examination tables, wheelchairs, scales, and diagnostic/medical equipment in examination and treatment rooms.
  • Diagnostic services from trained radiologists using specialized imaging and image-guided interventions, such as CT scans and MRI machines that are designed for large body sizes.
  • Medically necessary obesity treatment without step-therapy or an overly burdensome preauthorization process.
  • Access and health coverage for bariatric surgery and medically appropriate surgical interventions (such as total knee and hip arthroplasties) without restrictions based on BMI.
  • Obesity treatment support from patient advocates and patient navigators to address the individual’s transportation, nutrition, and financial assistance needs.
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National Consumers League
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T: (202) 835-3323