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Readout of Secretary Becerra’s Virtual Roundtable On State of Obesity And Nutrition Amidst The Pandemic

On January 27, 2022, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra hosted a virtual roundtable on nutrition and obesity, focused on tackling health disparities and addressing the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people with obesity.

People with excess weight are at a greater risk during the pandemic, and having obesity may triple the risk of hospitalization due to a COVID-19 infection.

The roundtable discussed obesity prevention programs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s existing initiatives, health care coverage, community-based organization engagement, and cultural competency and equity. Participants, who represent researchers, providers, advocacy groups, and community organizers, are listed below.

  • Trust for America’s Health (TFAH)
  • Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
  • Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN)
  • Obesity Medical Association (OMA)
  • National Urban League (NUL)
  • Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3F)
  • UnidosUS
  • Salud America!

Secretary Becerra underscored the importance of leveraging existing community partnerships and centering cultural competence to expand access to resources and reduce obesity. The roundtable highlighted significant equity implications that must be recognized, as communities of color are hit hardest by the obesity epidemic.

This discussion builds on Secretary Becerra’s commitment to meet people and communities where they are with locally tailored solutions. The CDC supports a number of grant programs that fund community efforts to prevent and reduce obesity by improving nutrition and physical activity at state and local levels.

Secretary Becerra concluded the roundtable discussion by thanking participants for their ideas and expertise, and invited them to continue collaborating with HHS on this issue. He emphasized that “COVID-19 and the risks it presents to those with obesity have given even greater urgency to our efforts to treat it and beat it.”

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