2015 It Starts Now Video Contest Winners Announced


Spanning topics ranging from weight discrimination to overcoming obesity to why obesity is a disease, It Starts Now, the first national film and video contest sponsored by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), received roughly 25 entries before announcing its winners at the Balasco Theater in Los Angeles, California during ObesityWeek 2015. Entries were sought that creatively inspired, motivated and/or educated the public about issues related to obesity.

A jury-awarded grand prize of $5,000 was awarded to Reeger Cortell, FNP from Oregon who created a video called, “I Have a Disease; It’s Called Obesity.” Cortell said she will donate her prize to the Obesity Action Coalition. In a statement she submitted along with video Cortell said, “As a nurse practitioner and independent podcaster of the Weight Loss Surgery Podcast, I regularly bear witness to the pain caused by judgment, shame, and blame targeted towards people affected by obesity. “I Have a Disease; It’s Called Obesity” was written in their defense, as an unapologetic statement of facts. To bring the script to life, I invited the individuals featured in the film. Despite the fact that they are all at different points in treating their obesity, they continue to share in common the scars of harsh criticism and the desire to help make a positive difference moving forward.”

First Place

I Have a Disease; It’s Called Obesity
Reeger Cortell

A second place prize of $3,500 was awarded to Brendan Walsh from New Jersey for “The Push and the Will,” an autobiographic sketch about his struggle with obesity since childhood.

Second Place

The Push and the Will
Brendan Walsh

Third place prizes of $1,500 were awarded to Tracy Martinez, RN for her video, “Obesity Discrimination,” which calls on the medical community to be more sensitive and understanding of the needs of people with obesity and Dr. Tim Erlich and Nate Ziller for their animated short describing how obesity is a disease.

Third Place

Obesity Discrimination
Tracy Martinez

Obesity is a Disease
Tim Erlich and Nate Ziller

It Starts Now judges included those from the television and film industry, obesity and public health experts, patient advocacy and journalism.

“We were looking for submissions with compelling narratives that bring new perspective, insight and strong voice to the prevention and treatment of obesity, the biggest health threat facing America and we found them,” said Raul Rosenthal MD, president of the ASMBS.

Dr. Rosenthal says the ASMBS has plans to continue the film and video contest next year. Winning videos will soon be posted on the ASMBS website.

Honorable Mention

Sounds of Blackness
Ann Nesby