Obesity Advocacy Day 2017

On Monday, February 27, 20107 the Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) and dietitians from across the United States met in Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress to advocate for the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) of 2017 and the establishment of a National Obesity Care Week (NOCW).  Obesity Advocacy Day attendees were divided into groups and traveled to various legislative offices to meet with Congress men and women to discuss and advocate for the TROA.  The TROA consists of two parts which aim to:

  • Enhance Medicare beneficiaries’ access to additional qualified healthcare professionals that are best suited to provide Intensive Behavioral Therapy (IBT)
  • Allow Medicare Part D to cover FDA-approved obesity drugs

Currently, CMS coverage for IBT is limited to being provided by a primary care provider in the primary care setting.  Because of this narrow coverage, nutrition professionals, endocrinologists, bariatric physicians, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and other specialists are unable to be reimbursed for providing these services.  When Congress enacted Medicare Part D, (the Medicare prescription drug program), obesity was not recognized as a disease, but rather a lifestyle condition.  Additionally, there were no widely-accepted FDA-approved weight loss medications on the market.  It was for these reasons that pharmaceutical weight loss aids were not covered under Medicare Part D.  Due to Medicare’s current limitation on providers of IBT and Medicare Part D’s lack of coverage on pharmaceutical weight loss aids, the TROA aims to change these aspects of Medicare coverage.  Lastly, the establishment of a NOCW aims to elevate societal awareness of obesity and weight bias as well as facilitate a shift to science-based treatment for those living with obesity.  The act proclaims the week of October 29-November 4 as National Obesity Care Week.


About the author: Katie Couch

Katie is currently a dietetic intern at the University of Virginia Health System. She completed her undergraduate degree in Nutrition Science and Master’s degree in Nutrition Science from Auburn University.  She enjoys cooking, reading, and exploring her new city of Charlottesville!







The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2015


This summer the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA) was re-introduced into the legislative process.  It was introduced to the House on May 18th (H.R. 2404) and to the Senate on June 4th, 2015 (S.1509).   Like all bills, this one must be reported by Committee, passed by the Senate, and passed by the House before it is signed into law by the President.


Who does it benefit?

Medicare beneficiaries.  As the title reveals, this act targets the obesity epidemic by providing Medicare participants with increased access to weight management care.


What are the proposed benefits?

Coverage for weight management care. More specifically, this legislation would enable Medicare benefits to cover intensive behavioral counseling and prescription medications included in weight management therapies.


Who could provide the care?

Other than the primary care physician (PCP), a list of other healthcare providers would be able to provide weight management care to Medicare beneficiaries under this act.  Here is the list in the current bill:

  • Physician (other than the PCP)
  • Physician Assistant
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Registered Dietitian or Nutrition Professional
  • An evidence-based, community-based lifestyle counseling program


Why now? Why not earlier?

Actually, the TROA was first introduced in 2013.  Strong support was received in both the Senate and House with 121 co-sponsors.  Yet, the legislation did not make it beyond the committee level.

Between 2013-2015 only 15% of the bills that were introduced past committee.  Only 3% of all those bills introduced were actually enacted.


How does an idea become a law?

Here is a little refresher about the lawmaking process.  There are nine main steps:

  1. Attention to an issue. A person, group, or organization increases the awareness of an issue and brings it to the attention of a government representative.
  2. Written, submitted, and sponsored. The bill is written by the representative and submitted to the clerk to be assigned a number and printed.  At least one legislative member (from either the House or Senate) must sponsor the bill. This is when the bill is introduced to either the House or Senate.
  3. Referred to committee. The appropriate committee is assigned to the bill.
  4. Subcommittee hearings and markup. The bill is referred to several committees and subcommittees within the House or Senate. These committees vote on whether to continue moving the bill forward or to table it.
  5. Full committee action. Once the bill is approved by the subcommittees it goes back to the full committee for amendments, debate, and a vote.
  6. Full chamber action. If the committee approves the bill, then the full membership of the House or Senate debates, makes amendments, and takes a vote.
  7. Conference committee. A committee with representatives from both the House and Senate work together to resolve differences and amend the two versions of the bill that had been approved separately by both the House and Senate.
  8. Final floor action. The final version approved by the conference committee then goes back to each legislative body for a final vote.
  9. Presidential action. Finally, once the two legislative bodies have passed the bill, it is sent to the President to be signed into law.


To make an impact on our community, we must communicate with these policymakers.  There are many steps in which a proposed bill could be stopped and only those with great support make it through.  To stay abreast of policy proceedings that may impact you, go to www.govtrack.us/congress/bills to read about and track bills of interest.  To learn more about TROA, go to www.obesityaction.org/treat-and-reduce-obesity-act.


About the Author:

Devon L Golem PhD RD

Devon L. Golem, PhD, RD

Devon is the VAND Professional Education Chair and lives in Charlottesville, VA.  She is the founder and CEO of the Institute of Continuing Education for Nutrition Professionals.  Please email her with any questions or comments about the blog at VAND.ProfessionalEducation@gmail.com.

Delegate’s Desk – February 2016

Please see the February 2016 Delegate’s Report below. Topics include Lead Exposure, the Spring HOD Meeting, Sponsorship, a new Position Paper, Primary Care Resources, and the latest from ACEND. 

 Flint, Michigan & Lead Exposure

The Academy is actively supporting our members’ efforts related to the lead exposure crisis in Flint, Michigan and we are continuing to raise the issue to a national level. Information about how to fight lead exposure with nutrition is available on the Academy website. The Michigan affiliate membership total is 2,174 and of that, five members reside in Flint.

Spring 2016 HOD Virtual Meeting

The House Leadership Team met in January to begin plans for the Spring 2016 HOD Virtual Meeting. While the HOD Leadership Team originally planned to discuss telehealth as the mega issue, there has been a change.  For day 1, the HOD Leadership Team will engage the HOD in discussions to help inform a vision for the profession in the next century. On day 2, the HOD will explore digital health and technology, focusing on how we can transform dietetics practice by being at the cutting edge in these evolving areas.

Please see below excerpts from the January 19 letter from AND President, Evelyn Crayton, PhD, RDN,  LDN, FAND, to members; more specifics regarding sponsorship to follow. 

“…The Board received the SATF report at our January 13 meeting and found it to be thoughtful, balanced, and helpful. The Board voted to implement a pilot program encompassing many of the SATF’s recommendations. The one-year pilot program includes appointing a Sponsorship Committee to review national-level sponsor opportunities and to develop assessment tools that will support the sponsorship process.
The Board of Directors approved the following newly revised sponsorship guidelines, which take effect immediately for all Academy organizational units. Dietetic Practice Groups and Member Interest Groups will be required to adhere to these guidelines and Affiliates are encouraged to adopt them.

Sponsorship approval requires that:

The sponsor’s vision and mission align with the Academy’s Vision, Mission and Strategic Goals. The sponsor’s product portfolio is broadly aligned with the Academy’s Vision: Optimizing health through food and nutrition. The sponsor relationship and sponsor product portfolio are broadly aligned with official Academy positions. All aspects of the sponsorship (such as research, consumer messaging or professional education for members) align with the Academy’s Scientific Integrity Principles. The Academy does not endorse any company, brand or company products, nor does the Academy’s name or logo appear on any product. Such endorsement is neither actual nor implied. The Academy maintains final editorial control and approval of all content in materials bearing the Academy name or logo. There is clear separation of Academy messages and content from brand information or promotion. Relevant facts and important information are included. The Board is confident that these revised guidelines and the new Sponsorship Committee pilot program will enable the Academy to better serve the organization and our members.

The Board is committed to transparency in our processes and we welcome member feedback. Please send an email to president@eatright.org.  …”

Interventions for Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults

Excess weight and obesity among adults results from many influences including personal factors, the communities where people live, and government policies. Therefore, successful weight loss must include multiple strategies addressing each of these influences, as well as the expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists, according to an updated position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  The position paper, “Interventions for Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults,” was recently published in the AND Journal. The position paper states: It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that successful treatment of overweight and obesity in adults requires adoption and maintenance of lifestyle behaviors contributing to both dietary intake and physical activity. These behaviors are influenced by many factors; therefore, interventions incorporating more than one level of the socioecological model and addressing several key factors in each level may be more successful than interventions targeting any one level and factor alone. The position paper updates the Academy’s 2009 position on this issue.

Free Webinar!
How to Integrate RDN Services in the New Primary Care

Payment models are rapidly changing in health care and require a team of healthcare professionals working collaboratively within the primary care practice. This webinar, at 1:00 p.m. Central time on Tuesday, February 23, will describe some of these new payment models and discuss the opportunities to integrate RDNs and nutrition counseling into primary care practices. 1.5 CPEUs pending. Click to register here.

Updated Toolkit Now Available
RDNs in the New Primary Care: A Toolkit for Successful Integration 

The toolkit has new information and practical tips to help RDNs be successful in new models of health care delivery that emphasize team-based care.  Learn how to expand the role of the RDN in Patient Medical Homes and Accountable Care Organizations and gain a better understanding of Alternative Payment Models that have the potential to expand patient access, as well as payment for services.   Free to members available here.

ACEND Updates

The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND®)

ACEND  is pleased to announce the release of the DRAFT 2017 Accreditation Standards for public comment. The draft 2017 Standards are the result of a planned five-year review cycle of the current 2012 Accreditation Standards to ensure compliance with USDE regulations. Please note that the 2017 standards are different from the future education model associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree standards that will be released for public comment later this year. The draft standards, the February Standards Update, and a Webinar, which provides an overview of the 2017 Standards development process and key changes from the 2012 Standards, are posted on the ACEND standards committee webpage. We value all stakeholder input and encourage you to provide input on the 2017 Standards at the following survey link.

The February Standards Update also addresses questions received at the January 14 Virtual Town Hall Meeting. The virtual town hall meetings are open to all stakeholders and are held the second Thursday of each month at 11:30 a.m. Central Time. The next meeting will occur February 11. Information for connecting to the virtual town hall is posted on the ACEND standards committee webpage. If you have questions, please send them to acend@eatright.org or call 312-899-4872

Stay in contact with HOD for good information and resources:  www.eatright.org/hod

Thank you!

Phyllis Woodson, MS, RD, CDE
VAND Delegate | pwmsrdcde@verizon.net