The SparkPeople Blog

Should Obesity Be Classified as a Disease?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/19/2013 6:00 PM   :  137 comments   :  20,657 Views

Yesterday, at their annual meeting, the American Medical Association decided to classify obesity as a disease. They hope this change will help doctors to better treat the complex condition and aid in the fight against type 2 diabetes and heart disease. While The New York Times reports that the AMA's decision has no legal authority, some medical professionals think the outcome will result in sweeping changes. 
 
 
Proponents of the decision say that this could help people get coverage for obesity treatments from their insurance companies, just as insurance companies provide coverage for other health conditions. Others worry that because the tool most commonly used to measure obesity, the BMI chart, is flawed, that recognizing obesity as a disease won't result in better treatment for patients.
 
A small debate has already started in the health and medical community about this news, as well as on the SparkPeople Message Boards and members are divided. One member noted that while she thinks it's too early in our understanding of obesity to classify it as a disease, this change might help remove some of the stigma overweight people face and make it easier for them to seek help. Another member calls the decision "ridiculous" because she thinks people will use the designation as an excuse not to make lifestyle changes.
 
While it's much too early to really know how this shift may affect insurance coverage for obesity treatments, it's nice to think that doctors might change their approach to dealing with obese patients. Instead of just telling them to lose weight or to simply eat less and exercise more (standard advice many people receive without any real support or resources to make it happen), maybe obese patients will receive better interventions and treatment plans that really work.

Take our poll: Do you think obesity should be classified as a disease?

What do you think? Should obesity be classified as a disease? Do you think this decision will result in positive or negative changes?


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Comments

  • JADZIAOZ
    87
    Defining obesity as a disease will simply make it easier for insurance companies to exclude it as a "pre-existing condition" and prevent obese people from being able to get health insurance (and life insurance, for that matter) and proper medical care. It will mean obese people get LESS medical help, not more. It will mean more obese people being refused basic health care. And if people don't realise it is already a massive (please excuse the unintentional pun) problem, they're walking around with blinkers on. Women being refused contraception because it will put weight on and doctors don't want them to put more on. Women being refused xrays and treatment for injuries on joints because they"just need to lose weight and it wall al be fixed"; women being refused assessment and treatment for food allergies, GERD, IBS, Celiac Disease, Crohns and other intestinal/bowel/digestive disorders because "it's your diet - eat health and lose weight and it will be fixed". Women being refused surgical interventions which in some cases can be life-saving because they're too big to fit on an operating table (which is rubbish!). Thin women do not get this kind of treatment from the medical profession - they are not subjected to this kind of discrimination - and this redefining of obesity as a disease will make it all the worse. It will not help one jot - it is a major backwards step for the health care of the obese - and especially for obese women. - 6/25/2013   6:41:18 AM
  • WOGSIE
    86
    It is a 'disease of the mind'. Yes you can diet and lose weight but how many people actually keep it off? Calling it a disease is not a cop out since we can still do things to remove ourselves from this 'disease', a day at a time. I think obesity is a combination of symptoms resulting from depression and compulsive disorder, thus a disease of the mind. Just like diabetes is a 'disease' and by altering your diet and lifestyle you can remove yourself from the 'disease' but you have to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep yourself free from diabetes. Same for obesity. So, yes, I say it is a disease of the mind that we CAN help eliminate. It is not a cop out to call it a disease. - 6/25/2013   5:16:54 AM
  • 85
    To say it's a disease is an absolute cop-out and so very wrong, and will give many people the green light to go ahead with their gluttony in an even greater way!!

    The word disease in this respect should be regarded as dis - ease, not being at ease with oneself which, to my mind, sums it up perfectly, they have underlying problems.

    Our Son-in-law professes to be addicted to food when in fact - he just does nothing apart from EAT and nothing at all to burn off calories! The trouble is.....he's dragging our Daughter (who used to be so very slim!) with him with his "I feel awful eating alone" calls. They both have real problems with our Daughter suffering from depression as a result. She's even taken tablets to try to help her BUT they had an adverse affect on her mental state and she just wasn't the girl she used to and so she's now back to being so very overweight again with our S-I-L leading the way.

    The world's gone mad with food since supermarkets came in, it was all so different when we went into a shop and asked for the things we NEEDED, now we're presented with food all around us and offers people BELIEVE they cannot resist.

    IF we could go back to the older ways of shopping I'm positive the world would be totally different with people being so much happier with their weight.

    Sue - 6/25/2013   5:11:23 AM
  • PIKA1319
    84
    Sorry, but it is NOT a disease. It is a symptom/side effect of other actual physical diseases (metabolic disorders, anything where you take medication that causes weight gain, etc.) or mental diseases (food addiction, eating disorder, etc.) - 6/23/2013   10:51:00 PM
  • 83
    Is obesity a disease? It certainly could be a symptom of several diseases.

    There's more to obesity than just being an overeater, slovenly, lazy and fat! In my case, I was in a stressful marriage, went through a stressful divorce, all while being employed in a stressful job. 30 + years of stress will contribute to weight gain, believe me.

    I'm a hard worker, very active, not lazy or slovenly, but I'm fat. As soon as I retired from my hateful, stressful job, I lost 10 pounds. Like others, I occasionally overeat, but usually, I eat normal portions. I resent the post of the person (people) who judge obese people as overeaters, because all they see is a fat person, and choose to judge rather than understand that there may be more to the person than the adipose tissue surrounding their frame.

    I'm not sure classifying obesity as a disease is going to help anything, but would like to believe that it will. - 6/22/2013   4:35:38 PM
  • 82
    No it is not a disease, it is a condition of overeating & lack of exercise. Is smoking a disease? It causes disease. - 6/21/2013   8:32:03 PM
  • 81
    I don't believe it IS a disease, but I think it was smart for the AMA to class it as a disease so that insurance will cover or at least defray the cost of treatment before it manifests as a disease like type 2 diabetes. We don't manage wellness in the US, so until that changes this is a logical stop gap. - 6/21/2013   4:11:16 PM
  • 80
    Depending on how this is used, it could be a good thing. If it helps insurance cover more "treatment" (i.e. lifestyle coaching and nutritionist visits and stuff like that), it's good. If it ends up giving insurance companies more justification to charge anyone who doesn't fall in the "normal" BMI category more, it's bad. BMI works to an extent, but when it shows the tall, muscular (but not an ounce of extra fat) person as overweight, it shows it's short comings. An insurance company telling that person to loose weight or pay more, using this decision as supporting evidence, is a big problem. That's my biggest concern about this. ...not that I am tall or particularly muscular, but still. :) - 6/21/2013   3:56:03 PM
  • 79
    What Obesity causes is disease and health problems, this is correct. - 6/21/2013   10:30:20 AM
  • 78
    Many interesting comments. I've lived with a chronic illness for 40 years now. It's a disease, but it's up to me to manage it, take my medications and adapt my lifestyle to be as healthy as possible. Classifying obesity as a disease is not taking the onus off people to manage it, but in my opinion it takes away some of the psychological baggage that is even apparent in some of the comments here, in a place that is supposed to be supportive.

    As an RN, I am very interested in population health. As some others have pointed out, we treat people who are alcohol or drug dependent with greater compassion than people who are obese. We are so willing to judge and yet, as many of us know, losing weight and keeping it off is difficult, and sometimes the things that used to work don't work any more. - 6/21/2013   8:51:33 AM
  • 77
    I think that this conversation is quite similar to one that has shown up recently among my friends and family re: disability. One of my cousins has a son who experienced a traumatic brain injury and has some permanent impairment as a result. Within the last year or so they succeeded in getting disability benefits for him. As his mother says, they did this for what being classified as disabled can get him help to do, not so that he'll be taken care of for the rest of his life. One of my brothers-in-law has a nephew who was exposed to drugs and alcohol before his birth. When he was young he received some help, but after a while his foster parents (an aunt and uncle) decided to stop getting those services even though he was still showing signs of impairment. Now he's nearly 30 and two aunts (not including the foster mom) have realized that he can become a self-supporting adult with some assistance and are helping him to get that assistance. His foster mother is fighting them at every step because she doesn't want him labeled, but if he's not diagnosed and labeled he gets no assistance.

    This is all a very long way of saying that I think that if labeling obesity a disease is a good thing if it helps people qualify for assistance and a bad thing if people use that label as an excuse. - 6/21/2013   8:20:00 AM
  • 76
    I think that sure it will help some people feel less of a stigma for being overweight, but as for me: I can't give myself an excuse to not try to healthily lose weight. I personally do not consider it a disease unless already paired with things like diabetes or thyroid problems. It's more a cause or effect of disease than a disease itself. - 6/20/2013   10:52:39 PM
  • 110MAMA
    75
    So if I were to gain 30 lbs I would be considered diseased? Yeah thanks but no thanks. I might be 4 BMI points higher and 30 lbs heavier than I was before I had my 14 month old, but I know boot camp style exercise or laser lipo can melt it off in no time. Please don't insult me just because the fat has settled in and infused itself to my muscles. - 6/20/2013   10:27:17 PM
  • GWENNIE_55
    74
    I hope that this decision might spur the medical research communities to explore more treatment options. Now, options include: 1. willpower/better decisions/exercise, and we all know how difficult that can be. And maintaining it for a lifetime? Carumba! and 2. surgery, bringing with it a new slew of challenges, that are also hard to maintain and life-altering. So when an M.D. recommends weight loss, there's not much she can do to help her patient succeed. There's a boatload of money to be made in this area. - 6/20/2013   10:11:57 PM
  • 73
    I don't care what it's classified as, however, I do hope that with the new disease classification more doctors step up, grow a pair and confront more of their patients. A lot of people don't view it as a problem because their doctor hasn't been blunt with them. We all need to start hearing it from medical professionals and it needs to be taken seriously - screw feelings, it's a health issue worth making someone uncomfortable over in order to resolve. - 6/20/2013   9:50:44 PM
  • 72
    While many people don't consider this a disease, they will consider alcoholism a disease. But what is the difference, really? Alcoholics are addicted to alcohol and have some reason why they started drinking in the first place. The same can be said of obesity since many times the overeating is caused by stress, depression or other triggers and the people cannot control their eating. The result might not be the actual disease, but what causes it could very well be. So it needs to be treated as a disease. - 6/20/2013   8:24:00 PM
  • 71
    If you look up the definition of a disease, obesity does fit the criteria of a disease, "a disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment.
    2.
    any abnormal condition in a plant that interferes with its vital physiological processes, caused by pathogenic microorganisms, parasites, unfavorable environmental, genetic, or nutritional factors, etc.
    3.
    any harmful, depraved, or morbid condition, as of the mind or society: His fascination with executions is a disease."

    I think we simply need to change the way we think about it and address that this is a serious issue and is not going away anytime soon. Is it a disease that can be prevented, yes and it can also be cured. - 6/20/2013   6:54:51 PM
  • 70
    It is ONLY a disease if a person has a thyroid problem. The AMA decision to make it a disease is a CRUTCH for a lot of people. About 2 years ago I was about 65 problems overweight. I joined w. w. and a gym. I have kept 55 lbs off.
    I still go to the gym. I exercise 1 1/2 hour per day including strength weight, treadmill and elliptical. I still eat some junk food (in moderation). I buy a bag of potato chips, but I give over half away to the clerk in the store. - 6/20/2013   6:16:38 PM
  • C2MARATHON
    69
    I've been thinking a lot about this since I found out yesterday and I agree with the decision to classify it as a disease.

    Is it a disease caused by poor choices? Yes. But my father had emphysema which came from his choice to smoke a pack a day for over 30 years. Many times heart disease is caused by poor food choices (as is type 2 diabetes) and we classify them as diseases and we treat them.

    While I don't think this should be used as a way for drug companies to make more money, I think classifying it as a disease allows doctors to help their patients. It also puts more money into true scientific research so we can learn more about nutrition and weight loss.

    As for those worried about people going in, finding out they are obese and doing nothing about it, I don't think you need to worry too much. Most people going into their doctor with weight issues want to change. Those who don't want to change are not very likely to go see their doctor to begin with. - 6/20/2013   6:13:50 PM
  • MDYSON5
    68
    I see this as a way for big pharm to make billions off of under tested diet pills covered by insurance that we find out many misuse, or ignore diet and exercise changes required to make a healthy change. Then 5 years later we find out the pills cause heart attacks or cancer or something crazy. I hope that never happens. Instead I hope this leads to more insurance companies covering gym memberships, personal trainers and dietitians, to teaching more people how to be healthy and food companies to improving their products. I think genetics as well as diet and exercise all play a part, but to call it a disease? I know there is a cold virus they are now saying may be linked to obesity, but they also said very few obese people have this virus, so it is not the cause. We just need to work on improving our lifestyles - 6/20/2013   5:51:55 PM
  • 67
    I am very interested in what people see as the pros and cons of this issue. In particular:

    Some say it is not a disease like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc., because it is often caused by poor choices. Well, so is lung cancer and diabetes and heart disease! If you don't smoke and eat right, you have much less chance of getting them.

    I am also interested in the number of people who fear that the label "disease" will act as a crutch to obese people who will then say "I can't help it, I have a disease." I don't believe this! I think that people with diseases seek treatment for the disease, and the treatment for obesity is proper diet and exercise.

    I think that the majority of the emotional NO reaction to the classification is coming from obese people who feel that the way they are shaped is just fine, and they don't want to change. Being told they have a "disease" is a threat to their lifestyle.

    Maybe we should new age the word and see dis-ease. I have had severely obese friends, and they are not at ease. They struggle to stand, they gasp for air, they feel constantly threatened and ridiculed. So yes, I do agree with the "dis-ease" diagnosis and hope that it helps those who want treatment to find it. - 6/20/2013   5:35:20 PM
  • CLAFAVER1
    66
    I think if the obesity is related to underlying, medical issues then perhaps. If it's because I drank soda and ate bags of chips, no. I believe it is a complicated issue based on each person as an individual and medical professionals should be allowed to make that call on a case-by-case basis. - 6/20/2013   5:29:08 PM
  • 65
    I guess I am really lucky. I live in Scotland and in places such aswhere I am, there isa whole heap of help for people who are obese or disabled. First of all, I live in an area called Forth Valley. In our area we have a thing called Active Forth. On recommendation from your doctor, you get a pass which allows you free use of the swimming pool and also subsidised gym membership, (it is currently saving me around 50% of the actual cost). To put it in perspective for you, I am currently paying just US$30 per month and that entitles me to a personal qualified trainer, a proper training programme, use of the swimming pool, use of the sauna and for those who are interested also covers exctra classes such as aquacize and zumba. I am not obese but am disabled. Just to clarify that. Having said this, the trainer has to have the necessary qualifications in order to deal with the disabled. Why do I bring up disability? Because obesity is seen as a disability bya lot of doctors. In order tog et people who want to cahnge some monitoredand proper guidance, they are registered with a physiotherapist and then sent to the training class. But exercise alone is not enough. There is still the matter of nutrition. In this case he doctor will also refer you to a nutricianist/dietician who will also monitor you, albeit via monthly appointments, but will recommend a specific diet if requested, or at least will explain what you should and what you should not be eating. I have a daughter who is also disabled and who was also obese at the time she started using both the training programme andthe dietician. I am pleased to say that she has lost nearly 50lbs so far and is continuing to lose. I am actually really proud of her because she has certain issues that prevent her from doing quite a lot of the exercises that an able bodied person would think nothing of. If there is more required, such as a helping hand through a lack of willpower in the face of temptation, other help is at hand. Everything from a daily visit by a district nurse to sessions with a psychologist or even a psychiatrist.It is all there for you and thus there can be no excuse. All that is required from you is a commitment to do at least 12 weeks and then be assessed. A report then gets sent to your doctor and a decision made whether to allow you to continue on the programme or not. If you are serious and show commitment then oyu will eb allowed to stay on the programme. If you are just there to make up the numbers and are seen to just be what I call playing at it, then questions will be askedand if oyu are not prepared to commit fully then you will not be allowed back until you do make the necessary promise. There are only so many places available at any one time and yet nobody is turned away. Some of uswho have progressed to the stage where we need minimal support often go in early so that we can get our workout in before those who need more assistance,such as those who need help with getting on and off the exercise machines or who need one on one monitoring, such as a chap we have who is mentally challenged but his main issue is one of obesity. Those with obesity are always closely monitored even if it means getting another trainer in to assist. This way a mandatory rest can be called or even a stop to the exercises for the session to ensure that obese people do not over commit. The last thing a trainer needs is someone to have a heart attack!

    So, to sum up. The programmes I have told oyu about are, I believe, available throughout the UK under different names depending whre yo live. They are either free or at the worst, highly subsidised and if you are on benefit income you stand to gain even more of a subsidy. They deal with all manner of issues; from people with major disabilities such as MS orwho have to carry oxygen with them, (we have two of those in our class), to people who are obese to the extent that they are a heart attack waiting to happen, (such as how my daughter was in the beginning). Classes are tailored by the trainer to individual needs and are strenuously monitored to make sure that you do enough without doing too much in any one session. In my case I was not allowed near the treadmill when I started as i was still using my wheelchair quitea bit. Since being on the programme I am nowusing the treadmill with inclinesand have recently graduated to the cross trainer. I am able, fro short distances, to use a walking stick or a delta walker, and only when it is really necessary, such as when shopping or for longer distances, do I now use my wheelchair. Thsi is how effective the prgrammes are.

    Our government has recognised that bysubsidising such programmes, cost savings can actually be made. Even with the subsidies, the cost per person goes down when it comes to medical issuse. When a person is on such a programme, normally you find that at least some aspect of their health will improve. As a result there are less visits to the doctor or the hospital, so mony is therefore saved. Since the programmes were put into place, savings have far outweighed subsidies. Does that not say something?

    So, I suggest a third option to classify obesity. Not a disease; not a condition, but a disability. I am witness to the results of having it treated this way so I throw it open to your thoughts about this. We are so fortunate in the UK not to have to depend on insurance companies to regulate what we can and cannot do to improve our health. Instead we have a system that cares and a medical system that is free at the point of entry for all, and for anyone who reads the disability team's posts, I have been more than vocal on what I think of the American medical system, and it is not exactly favourable to put it mildly. Our system does have its faults and is not perfect, but when it comes down to it, our system is affordable for the person in the street no matter whether they are earning pots of money orare on benefit income. This is but one example of how our system cares and i will leave it at that this is not the fiorumand dtracts from the main topic.

    Your thoughts appreciated. - 6/20/2013   3:10:56 PM
  • 64
    I agree 100% that obesity should be treated as a disease. - 6/20/2013   2:46:40 PM
  • MZDEBBI
    63
    Many say that someone who is obese could just have the "willpower" to say no and control their eating. My question to them is this: Why is alcoholism treated as a disease? Couldn't that person just have the "willpower" to say no to a drink? Logically you can say, that a person doesn't need to drink, doesn't need to have alcohol around them, but on the other hand, food is everywhere. You need to eat to stay alive, you can not have food around you.

    By having obesity made a disease, you can now have the help from your family doctor. Maybe instead of them just saying go on a diet, they will help educate you, and give you the support you need.

    If obesity was such an easy thing to change in our life, would we need Sparkpeople.com? Would we need all those self help books?

    Everyone on this site is here for their own reasons and to judge what brings others to this site or any site that deals with "diets" is unfair. I know for myself that there are times that I'm drawn to food the same way that an alcoholic is drawn to drink, so who is to say that one is a disease and the other is not.
    Take care - 6/20/2013   1:11:41 PM
  • 62
    My initial feeling is that it is a condition. However, I do know there are people who do all the "right" things (exercise, eat properly, etc) and are still obese. I think a good middle-ground might be to approach it as a condition first, then - after proper monitoring from a health professional - if THAT doesn't work, approach it as a more serious, disease. - 6/20/2013   12:54:15 PM
  • 61
    i am not sure about this argument. i am thinking it is a condition... - 6/20/2013   12:14:25 PM
  • 60
    The issue is, that even if we go to our doctors who can have treatments, they aren't approved by 90% of the Health Insurance plans I've seen because they are considered "cosmetic", and most of the people I know can't afford the out of pocket/non covered expense. If this helps in getting help/treatment I am all for it. My issues aren't over eating, much of the time its undereating. But I also have a thyroid &, immune system issues that alone would make it difficult but not impossible to lose weight. Combined, it makes it damn near impossible. and I have seen DIFFERENT doctors (one who I wasn't even there for my weight but in the ER for a KIDNEY STONE, told me as a side note, that I would NEVER lose the weight without surgery , guess what Surgery is NOT covered by most insurance company's.) I still keep working at it though. Finding different ways to work out/eat healthier.
    - 6/20/2013   12:01:32 PM
  • ROBBIEY
    59
    I don't think it should be labeled a disease, but a condition that lead to diseases. - 6/20/2013   11:27:30 AM
  • 58
    I disagree about obesity being a disease. It is just going to turn into a crutch for people to use in order to not fully commit to a healthy lifestyle change if at all. - 6/20/2013   11:23:20 AM
  • 57
    I think they should say a disease about they have no idea of anything , no cause , no treatment , no nothing. at least if they do that maybe someone will finally study it without horse glasses - 6/20/2013   11:19:25 AM
  • 56
    OMG, I say, "It's about time!" In the health care system as it exists today, there are sooooo many hurdles to achieving good health. So many diseases could be prevented, or at least lessened) -- think heart disease, CV disease, diabetes, the pain of osteoarthritis . . . the list is endless -- IF more preventive measures were allowed by insurance.

    I for one, was overweight (morbidly obese) and the final straws for me to "get a grip" on my health were being diagnosed with hypertension in 2009 and type 2 diabetes 2 mths. later in January 2010. LIFE changing diagnoses.

    Now, looking back at those times, I think IF a Dr. had diagnosed morbid obesity perhaps the hypertension, and type 2 diabetes could have been avoided. Those weren't the cards I was dealt. HOWEVER, when I did get these diagnoses I didn't roll over and play "dead" (literally and figuratively!).

    I joined SP, adopted healthy lifestyle habits and lost the diagnoses of hypertension and type 2 diabetes! All with proper nutrition and exercise. Perhaps if a Dr. had referred me to a nutritionist I could have avoided these problems, but that's not how it worked.

    Soooo much $$$$ in our health care system is spent throwing meds @ different chronic problems and the $$$ would better be applied to PREVENTION of these problems.

    Ok, stepping off the step stool and whole heartedly applauding the fact that the AMA has taken a baby step in the direction of helping this nation regain it's health1

    NOW the trick is having Drs. be allowed the time it takes to educate their patients! Round 2, eh! - 6/20/2013   10:57:38 AM
  • 55
    OMG, I say, "It's about time!" In the health care system as it exists today, there are sooooo many hurdles to achieving good health. So many diseases could be prevented, or at least lessened) -- think heart disease, CV disease, diabetes, the pain of osteoarthritis . . . the list is endless -- IF more preventive measures were allowed by insurance.

    I for one, was overweight (morbidly obese) and the final straws for me to "get a grip" on my health were being diagnosed with hypertension in 2009 and type 2 diabetes 2 mths. later in January 2010. LIFE changing diagnoses.

    Now, looking back at those times, I think IF a Dr. had diagnosed morbid obesity perhaps the hypertension, and type 2 diabetes could have been avoided. Those weren't the cards I was dealt. HOWEVER, when I did get these diagnoses I didn't roll over and play "dead" (literally and figuratively!).

    I joined SP, adopted healthy lifestyle habits and lost the diagnoses of hypertension and type 2 diabetes! All with proper nutrition and exercise. Perhaps if a Dr. had referred me to a nutritionist I could have avoided these problems, but that's not how it worked.

    Soooo much $$$$ in our health care system is spent throwing meds @ different chronic problems and the $$$ would better be applied to PREVENTION of these problems.

    Ok, stepping off the step stool and whole heartedly applauding the fact that the AMA has taken a baby step in the direction of helping this nation regain it's health1

    NOW the trick is having Drs. be allowed the time it takes to educate their patients! Round 2, eh! - 6/20/2013   10:57:29 AM
  • MARGOMCP
    54
    There's too much unknown about our current obesity problems and I don't think the doctors are the ones who "care". I'd like someone looking into food additives and processing, etc. as that is the major changer in the last 50-75 years.

    Yes we're eating non-nourishing food and all struck inside on our electronics but our societal choices are not as good as they could be? If the grocery stores can't survive in the bad neighborhoods, the people there have to eat at McDonald's and the other fast food places that do survive. If the children don't have parents who care enough to try and feed them well, what are they supposed to do? - 6/20/2013   10:40:33 AM
  • 53
    no, for 95% of the obesity cases, it is preventable with healthy living. for the other 5%, there is help they can get to manage their weight. - 6/20/2013   9:56:45 AM
  • CINDYM1963
    52
    I think of obesity as a symptom. There are too many underlying reasons why people become overweight to lump all of us into one category. Having said that, I do feel that some people probably have what could be classified as an eating disorder. My concern with the AMA's decision is that it could lead to a 'one size fits all' treatment plan that could miss underlying causes like depression and chronic pain (etc.) that need treatment in addition to a simple diet and exercise program. - 6/20/2013   9:55:52 AM
  • 51
    Yes this is a good idea. Alcoholism and other addictions are treated as a disease. In many cases obesity results from an addiction to unhealthy foods like pop and fast food. Yes, I believe people are addicted to these foods - they actually go through withdrawal when they stop eating them, especially the sugar loaded foods. - 6/20/2013   9:52:23 AM
  • NEWHOMEOWNER
    50
    It's a double edged sword - lung cancer is also preventable (not smoking) but there are some people who have never smoked or been exposed to lung carinogens who get lung cancer. Obesity is the same, although much more prevalent. I don't like that my medical costs go to pay for an obese person to see a nutirtionist and I'd have to pay out of pocket because I'm not obese (merely overweight). And covering insurance costs doesn't mean the obese person will make he changes necessary to lose weight either. And then once obese becomes overweight what happens? Coverage stops? And then they gain a pound and it starts again? I think BMI is too vague and dated to be used to "diagnose" he obesity "disease" - 6/20/2013   9:40:18 AM
  • 49
    Yes, it should be classified as a disease so that doctors can treat it and insurance can cover the cost. - 6/20/2013   9:09:44 AM
  • ROE_WAG
    48
    I think I'd like there to be more information available before deciding. I think in some cases it is a disease. I know I've been struggling with a weigth issue. I don't eat out much. I watch my portion sizes. I exercise most days out of the week from 30 minutes to an hour. I drink water instead of soda, even when I do go out to eat. I don't drink. But, it seems like I'm not loosing much weight. I've asked my doctor and am told to eat right and exercise. But, then I know people who just don't care about how they eat, don't exercise, and just don't care. I'd like to see how this plays out. - 6/20/2013   9:08:34 AM
  • 47
    I feel obesity is more of an addiction and I feel being able to have access to the same treatment options as alcoholics, drug addicts etc. would be highly beneficial. If classifying obesity as a disease improves this then great! Over eating is often used as a calming and/or avoidance mechanism...too much food and you literally go into a comatose or altered state. Why you choose to do these things and why you continue to do them despite the negative consequences is what needs to be understood. More treatment programs made available that can help a person from a holistic position (mind and body) could help those who struggle to recover. - 6/20/2013   9:01:23 AM
  • 46
    I am not sure if I think this will help the medical field treat obesity differently- but I think it's interesting how many people commented on this not being a disease while diabetes and high blood pressure are- both of which CAN be caused by obesity. If you were diagnosed with diabetes would you 'give up and use that as an excuse to remain diabetic' ? The logic doesn't make much sense to me- most people want to improve their health and just don't know what to do. Maybe this will at least give people more guidance. I know I haven't ever been properly treated for obesity except for one time when I was fortunate to find a bariatric specialist. (I live in a very rural community) Educating physicians and giving them more resources and training to address obesity can't be a bad thing. - 6/20/2013   8:36:19 AM
  • 45
    This is just so doctors can make more MONEY off of obese people and get insurance companies to pay for $30,000 gastric bypass operations. My being obese has been because of my eating to much of the wrong food. - 6/20/2013   8:31:11 AM
  • 44
    I was originally divided in my opinion as to whether this was a good decision on the AMA's part or not. I've since realized that I can't agree that obesity is a disease. - 6/20/2013   8:31:03 AM
  • 43
    I don't think obesity is really a disease, but since the government supports companies that engage in the presentation of unhealthy food choices to the people of this country, I think someone should help those victims of our food culture. Yes, we all make our food choices, but fast food and other unhealthy dietary practices are promoted and encouraged in this country. when first introduced, they may have been harmless, but over time and greed, the food industry has made the food choices a health hazard. Once people see the light and try to improve, they should get some help in the treatment of this condition. - 6/20/2013   8:14:13 AM
  • 42
    I don't beliive obesity is a disease! I say they have come up with this to some way benefit the government and their ridiculous policies. It has to be for their benefit alone. They need to spend their money and time fighting real diseases...cancer, heart discease etc. - 6/20/2013   8:06:38 AM
  • 41
    I disagree with the decision. I also worry that my studies to become a Health Coach will result in my not being able to practice because I'm not a physician. Physicians do not learn anything about nutrition and how to help people eat better unless they specifically study nutrition so I'm not sure how this will help. That's where we as Health Coaches come in. We have the background to help people take charge of their health and fill in that gap. On the other hand, this could result in more people being able to use Health Coaching services if it is covered by their insurance so I guess we will have to wait and see. - 6/20/2013   7:51:35 AM
  • 40
    Obesity isn't a disease like cancer,heart,or diabeties is. It's mostly caused from poor food choices, lack of exercise, an or from some other problems related too specific diseases. But I agree with some of the readers that if it is diagnosed as a disease, people won't seek a way too fix it, an give up the fight to try an make it better, (thinking its unable to cure) I am currently obese, an led a life of poor food choices an lacked exercise in my early years, but due too some other disorders of my body (Thyroid Disease) gained an awful amount of weight an am having a heck of time losing. But I will say my current Doctor doesn't seem to really know what works, he just recommends me too loose. - 6/20/2013   7:49:44 AM
  • 39
    I disagree with the decision. Obesity is a condition, not a disease. I believe the negative results (financial, social, emotional) will far outweigh any possible positive outcomes. Our efforts should be focused on ways to help educate people who struggle with obesity (and I am formerly obese) about nutrition, food choices, exercise, etc. While important for all, it is especially true for children. At least in my area of the country, it is very expensive to eat fresh, healthy, nutritious good- tasting food. We need to find ways to make those foods affordable for families. A diet of boxed macaroni and cheese (3 boxes for $1) is the choice many families are forced to make rather than enough lean meat or fresh vegetables to feed a family. I feel fortunate that I'm able to afford my new healthy lifestyle but many others can't. I think the AMA has really missed the mark on this although I'm sure they have the best of intentions. - 6/20/2013   5:13:24 AM
  • 38
    I think it's a double edged sword. On one hand, it may give many more people the tools and support to lose weight and improve their health. Problem is, I haven't met many doctors who actually have a good understanding of obesity, much less how to treat it. I've met doctors who don't even know much about nutrition! I've had doctors offer to prescribe surgery for me without ever talking about diet. Then again, it was a doctor who steered me to SparkPeople. So-- Will this lead to doctors being properly trained to deal with obese patients. What about healthy people who don't fit the BMI and ideal weight charts? Is there some way this will actually lead to more of a stigma being placed on obesity? Too many questions, not enough answers for me. - 6/20/2013   4:37:28 AM

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