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This is the sort of organization I might mention as a joke when talking to a friend, but there really is an American Obesity Organization, the country's only pressure group acting on behalf of fat people.

The American Obesity Association (AOA) is a non-profit Delaware corporation founded in 1995 by two notable researchers in the field of obesity, Richard L. Atkinson, M.D. and Judith S. Stern, Sc.D., R.D. They are its only full-time employees.

Their Web site, www.obesity.org, says they focus on changing the public perception of obesity, and this node isn't helping, I'm sure.

The AOA is primarily a lobbying organization with a half-million dollar annual budget (including support from Weight Watchers), but they have a broader mission. The organization is trying, through research, education, and other methods, to change how society views the overweight and obese.

They promote the position that being overweight is not a mark of bad character or poor impulse control, nor are overweight people failures. Rather, obesity is a disease—and, with two-thirds of American adults overweight, an epidemic.

To this end, they have worked with the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, American Society for Bariatric Surgery, Shape Up America!, the Obesity Law and Advocacy Center and the American Dietetic Association. They have also been involved in liaison activities with NIDDK, NHLBI and the Arthritis Institute.

Other outreach efforts include newsletters, their Web site (www.obesity.org), and frequent contact with the media and with policymakers.

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