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Ahead of White House’s September Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease Hosts Listening Session to Discuss Addressing Obesity and Advancing Health Equity

Take a look at the recommendations and input submitted to the White House following this listening session by clicking here:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease (HECCD), a national group dedicated to addressing barriers to care in communities of color, hosted a Listening Session in connection with the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health earlier this month.

This virtual event brought together leaders in health equity and medicine to discuss prevention and treatment strategies for combating rapidly rising rates of diet-related chronic diseases. Takeaways from this event were shared with the Biden Administration ahead of the September Conference to help inform their priorities in the fight to reduce disparities in health outcomes. 

Speakers discussed the weight bias in the medical community, how produce-prescription programs can increase nutrition in communities of color, and the need to develop an inclusive obesity policy in the United States. 

An archived webcast of the Listening Session can be found here. Remarks came from: 

Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League

“We are living in one of the most well-endowed, one of the richest countries in the world, yet far too many Americans are dying from malnutrition – whether that presents itself as hunger or unhealthy eating… and we must acknowledge and address the root causes of this are poverty and systemic racism.”

Michele Tedder, Senior Program Manager at the Black Women’s Health Imperative: 

“Without access to a comprehensive treatment plan that included bariatric surgery, lifestyle change support, and weight loss medications for maintenance, I was fighting a battle that I wasn’t likely to win on my own. And as a black woman I’m also an example of an unequal burden of obesity on communities of color.” 

Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)/ Harvard Medical School (HMS)

“When we continue to perpetuate this mantra that this is all the patient’s fault and all they have to do is eat less and exercise more, we’ll continue to fail patient after patient, person after person, generation after generation.” 

Dr. Tiffani Bell Washington, Diplomate of American Board of Obesity

Medicine, Diplomate of American Board of Lifestyle Medicine

“We need to develop obesity policy. I think there should be a decrease in the limitations for the barriers that come with trying to prescribe anti-obesity medications: removing prior authorizations, making sure we do get the approval for anti-obesity medications for Medicare and Medicaid populations and hopefully commercial insurers follow.” 

Dr. George L. King, Director of Research, Senior Vice President and Head of the

Section on Vascular Cell Biology at Joslin Diabetes Center and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School

“And since many of these medical problems as mentioned before, diabetes, hypertension, and now with newer associations of cognitive decline, and even with COVID, these are all mainly environmental-related illnesses and therefore we have to take the community environment factors into consideration.” 

The event was moderated by Dr. Elena V. Rios, President and CEO of National Hispanic Medical Association with support from Irene Bueno and Patricia Griffin of NVG. Additional speakers included Brent Ling of Wholesome Wave and Dr. Senbagam Virudachalam from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

Learn more about the Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease at For media requests, please contact Sanjali De Silva at

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The Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease (HECCD) believes that all people deserve the best possible health care. Continuing to allow outdated coverage policies to restrict access for communities dependent on public programs is counter to the principles of health equity. The Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease’s mission is to ensure that community experts, policy makers, providers, and other stakeholders work together to eliminate barriers to healthcare for communities of color, especially as related to access to care and treatment for obesity and other chronic diseases. Learn more at

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