The American Medical Association (AMA), the largest group of physicians and medical students in the US, has officially recognized obesity as a disease. While there are no direct legal implications stemming from this declaration, meaning that this will not necessarily immediately affect how insurers cover or regard the issue, it definitely sheds more light on just how serious of a problem obesity has become across the nation. This is a major step in recognizing the fact that obesity is not just a health concern, but rather an epidemic that needs action.
Obesity is one of the most complicated issues in the entire health sphere. Currently, over one third of the adult population in the US and 17% of American children are considered to be obese. Furthermore, obesity has been shown to be a direct cause of other serious conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even some cancers.
The hope for this recognition is that it will lead to action on the part of doctors and insurers by increasing coverage for treatment of obesity and related diseases. There is also hope that this movement will lead to changes on a personal level as well. Recognizing that obesity is a disease could spur individuals to enact lifestyle changes as a way of combating it without necessarily resorting to surgical or other clinical methods of treatment.
There is concern, however that this labeling may actually have a negative effect on the issue. Obesity is a very personal issue, and calling it a disease can offend patients or even discourage afflicted individuals from seeking treatment. In addition, there is fear that pushing obesity further into the world of clinical medicine will just lead to it becoming another way for our nation to become dependent on prescription drugs and other treatments instead of trying to work harder to prevent the issue from arising in the first place.
What do you think about obesity being labeled as a disease?