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Weighty matters

The launch of Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) obesity Alliance

Published: 15 Jun 2011

weighty matters

Client: sanofi-aventis/Allergan

Agency: Chandler Chicco Agency

Campaign: The STOP Obesity Alliance

Timescale: 2006 to present

A quick look

Several years ago, efforts to turn the tide on the obesity epidemic had largely been uncoordinated and singularly focused on prevention. When sanofi-aventis sought an opportunity to establish obesity as a health problem, it looked to the Chandler Chicco Agency, which presented the recommendation to form a new coalition called the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance. The STOP Obesity Alliance was officially launched in 2007 and has recently grown into a multi-funder initiative.

Challenge

Housed at The George Washington Univer­sity (GW), the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance set out with three main objectives. To:

1)    Establish a coalition of medical, patient, government, labor, business, health insurer and quality-of-care organisations

2)    Leverage a consensus-driven approach, focused on aligning the voices of major health advocacy organisations

3)    Use academic research, national surveys and public forums to change perceptions about obesity and move forward the conversation that formerly began and ended with personal responsibility to one where policy decision-makers saw a need for engagement.

Solution

To achieve the alliance’s goals, Chandler Chicco Agency identified and recruited health advocacy organisations that would have the greatest influence on shaping a new health policy environment. Foundational research conducted by GW identified the major barriers to effective action against obesity – and it continues to guide the alliance. Then, the alliance executed a series of activities designed to change the policy discussion and shift decision-makers’ perceptions. Activities of the alliance have included, among others:

•    Releasing consensus-driven policy recommendations including a series related to health reform

•    Commissioning surveys on employee and employer attitudes on addressing obesity in the workplace as well as asking primary care physicians and patients about discussions on weight-related health issues  

•    Forming a Task Force on Women to help fill the information gap and increase dialog surrounding women and obesity.

Results

Today, the alliance membership includes nearly 50 influential non-profit and government organisations, including the American Heart Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans. The 17th US Surgeon General, Dr Richard H Carmona, serves as the alliance’s Health and Wellness chairman.  

The alliance has garnered widespread media coverage in more than 200 outlets with a total reach of more than 436 million readers. Interest in the alliance’s work continues to grow and is widely followed through the coalition’s web-based communications channels, including the website, blog, monthly e-newsletter (over 2,000 subscribers), Twitter page (nearly 260 Twitter followers) and Facebook fan page (close to 350 Facebook fans).  

In addition to breaking through with the media, key health policy decision-makers and legislators have also been widely influenced by the powerful coalition. Health reform efforts began with little to no mention of addressing obesity, but ultimately, the Government Accountability Office recommended that the federal government expedite its efforts to provide guidance to states on coverage of obesity-related services for children and adults. Additionally, Congress included key obesity-specific elements in its final

health reform law, which supported alliance recommendations.

Client verdict

Sanofi-aventis is in its fourth year of renewing its founding sponsorship of the STOP Obesity Alliance. Additionally, the Alliance has grown into a multi-funder initiative and has received funding from Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Allergan.

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