AAPI Launches Veterans Obesity Awareness Campaign in New York

AAPI Launches Veterans Obesity Awareness Campaign in New York

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NEW YORK (TIP):  Over 
3/4th of Veterans receiving care in VA facilities are considered to be 
overweight or obese and struggling with weight related issues. The 
epidemic of obesity across our country has adverse effects on morbidity,
 mortality, and healthcare expenditures. American Association of 
Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI),
 the most dynamic and ethnic organization representing more than 100,000
 physicians of Indian origin, officially launched Veterans Obesity 
Awareness Campaign (VOAC) at a solemn ceremony at the Indian Consulate 
in New York on Thursday, November 2nd, 2017.

Dr. Gautam Samadder, President of AAPI, addressing the audience:
 Leaders representing AAPI, WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF), Global 
Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO), VETERANS OF FOREIGN 
WARS (VFW), and MOVE! Weight Management Program, after signing the 
official document pledging to work together in the campaign supporting 
in one hundred VA facilities throughout the continental United States

Dr. Gautam Samadder, President of AAPI, 
in his presidential address, said, AAPI has joined a team from VA in its
 mission to improve the Health and Healthcare of Overweight and Obese 
Veterans along with other organizations including WHEELS Global 
Foundation (WGF), Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin 
(GAPIO) and VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS (VFW) and MOVE! Weight Management 
Program in developing the “Veteran Obesity Awareness Campaign”. Leaders 
representing each of these groups signed the official document, pledging
 to work together in the campaign supporting in at least one hundred VA 
facilities throughout the continental United States.

“The goal of the campaign is to support 
in one hundred VA facilities throughout the continental United States,” 
he said. Towards this end, AAPI has formed an adhoc committee to oversee
 its functions, consisting of  Dr. Samadder, President of AAPI, Dr. 
Vikas Kuarna, Chir; Dr. Uma Koduri and Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Co-Chairs.

“Coming from a nation that has given 
much to the world, today physicians of Indian origin have become a 
powerful influence in medicine across the world. Nowhere is their 
authority more keenly felt than in the United States, where Indians make
 up the largest non-Caucasian segment of the American medical 
community,” Dr. Samadder said.  “The overrepresentation of Indians in 
the field of medicine is striking – in practical terms, one out of seven
 doctors in the United States is of Indian Heritage. We provide medical 
care to over 40 million of US population, caring for one in every seven 
patients in the nation. There are 150 AAPI Chapters across the nation 
and it has an ever growing membership of Indian American Physicians,” he reported.

Providing a brief back ground to the 
launch and initiative of the Obesity awareness program for the Veterans,
 Dr. Sammadder said, a few years back, AAPI organized a highly 
successful “Childhood Obesity Awareness Campaign (COAC)” with a goal to 
help fight the childhood obesity problem by providing education to the 
students & their parents. Starting with the Pilot program in 2013, 
AAPI adopted close to 80 schools across the United States where they are
 promoting “Wear Yellow” for Obesity & Childhood Obesity Awareness, 
5-2-1-0 and Choose My Plate concept with the tag line of “Be Fit. Be 
Cool.” This success story has inspired AAPI to take on this major 
challenge among Veterans today, he declared.

Deputy Consul General of India
 in New York, who had inaugurated event with the lighting of the 
traditional lamp, said, “We are proud to host AAPI as it launches this 
significant event for Veterans.” While praising the contributions of 
Veterans, she said, the United States stands among the top nations of 
the world due the sacrifices made by Veterans. Describing Physicians of 
Indian Origin as a flourishing and highly influential community, the 
Indian official said, “This noble initiative is a great way of giving 
back to their adopted land.”

Joshua Starks, a retired Commander in 
the US Army, shared with the audience, his own personal experiences in 
his own family and among his colleagues in the Army, about the many 
challenges faced in tackling obesity among Veterans.  Describing obesity
 as a “symptom of the many major problems” faced by Veterans, Starks 
told the audience about the ways in which the Veterans are affected 
physically, mentally and emotionally after they return from deployment 
around the world, while defending freedom and liberty. According to him,
 the efforts at the VA in Tulsa has helped hundreds of Veterans by the 
older Veterans becoming mentors of the younger ones, and in the process 
finding meaning and purpose in life.

Dr. Vikas Khurana, in his address said, 
“The collaborative launch of the Veteran Obesity Awareness Campaign 
(VOAC) is a way of seeking to acknowledge and to create awareness about 
obesity among veterans as a national problem.

Dr. Uma Koduri provided the audience 
with a brief description of her efforts in Tulsi, Oklahoma in 
successfully launching Childhood Obesity awareness campaign, which was 
later on adopted by AAPI at the national level and now the initiative to
 help Veterans has become a national movement with the larger AAPI 
taking it across the nation.

Dr. Satish Kathula told the audience of 
the enormous cost, $200 Billion a year, spent in addressing the obesity 
problem in the country. This new initiative by AAPI and its partners is a
 way to educate AAPI members of the problems and create awareness among 
them and enable them to work towards preventing obesity among veterans 
and the larger population, he said.

Dr. Raj Bhayani, Coordinator of the 
event, in his introductory remarks, called obesity a form of “terror” 
from within us. “If we do not run, obesity will run behind us,” he said.

Rajat Gupta, an Indian American 
businessman and philanthropist, in his address, said, “With a vision to 
use technology to enable philanthropy, WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF) is
 a non-profit organization, that is a pioneer in applying technology to 
provide solutions to issues related with water, health, education, 
energy, livelihood, and sustainability.” Founded by the alumni of Indian
 Institutes of Technology (IIT), the foundation partners with 
non-profits based in the U.S. and India to raise awareness and implement
 solutions for issues related to their six focus areas.

A section of the audience at the official launch of the Veterans Obesity Awareness Campaign

Dr. Sudhir Parikh, representing Global 
Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO), which is partnering 
with AAPI, in this initiative, said, GAPIO is a nonprofit organization 
and its vision is “Improving Health Worldwide”. GAPIO stands to empower 
physicians of Indian origin to achieve highest professional standards, 
to provide affordable good quality healthcare, to contribute to local 
and regional community development and thereby help to reduce health 
inequalities and alleviate suffering globally. While lauding AAPI’s 
efforts, Dr. Parikh offered whole-hearted support to AAPI in achieving 
the goals of the campaign.

MOVE! Weight Management Program, is 
another program, supported by VA’s National Center for Health Promotion 
and Disease Prevention (NCP), that is part of this larger initiative by 
AAPI to spread awareness about obesity among Veterans. MOVE! is a weight
 management health promotion program designed to improve the lives of 
Veterans. Their goals are to annually screen every Veteran who receives 
care at VA facilities for obesity, refer individuals to weight 
management services, and make available different treatment options that
 fit the needs and preferences of our Veterans.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the 
nation’s oldest major veterans’ organization, is another partner with 
AAPI to work towards creating awareness of this major issue. VFW has an 
impeccable and longstanding record of service and stewardship. Their 
mission is to foster camaraderie among United States veterans of 
overseas conflicts, to serve our veterans, the military and our 
communities & to advocate on behalf of all veterans.


AAPI is an umbrella organization 
representing dozens of local chapters, specialty societies and alumni 
organizations. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, AAPI represents the
 interests of over nearly 100,000 physicians, medical students and 
residents of Indian heritage in the United States. It is the largest 
ethnic medical organization in the nation. For more, please visit:  


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