Is Obesity a Disease?

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Obesity is now a disease; at least it is in the eyes of The American Medical Association (AMA). The decision, announced this summer, has sparked a variety of praise and criticism from medical experts across the country. But the most chilling idea to come from this conclusion is that about one third of all Americans can be now defined as ill.

Among others, one of the biggest reasons for this decision is that obesity can impair body function, one of the criteria for something to be called a disease. Even though the AMA has no legal authority, supporters of the decision say that calling it a disease will help give more Americans access to obesity drugs, surgery and counseling. On top of that, some say that the decision could push physicians to pay more attention to obesity prevention and treatment with their patients. 

Several experts also hope this decision will help everyone to look at obesity as a complex disease rather than it’s current stigma as a consequence of poor lifestyle choices.

While it’s no secret that obesity can have some serious health consequences, many experts disagree with the decision. They feel it shouldn’t be considered a disease because the body mass index (BMI), what we currently use to define obesity, is flawed. Because of this, some experts worry that healthy individuals could be overtreated and other’s undertreated. There’s also the argument that obesity is more of a cause or risk factor for other medical conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease than a disease on it’s own.

Regardless of your views, eating healthy and sufficient exercise is the first step for those trying to prevent weight gain and those looking to lose weight. If you do lose a large amount of weight, a body lift or bariatric surgery can give you the dream body you've been working towards. 

4 Comments
  • Karen Morse @WellnessScience
    Posted on

    While not infectious, I absolutely believe that obesity is an epidemic (and by definition, therefore a disease) I do agree with the other comments in many ways: Sandy, Yes! Educating people on prevention is absolutely the first step. Close to 17% of all children are classified as obese. If they don't learn about healthy eating and exercise, they will be plagued with obesity and related diseases for their entire lives.

  • Sandy
    Posted on

    I agree, it's not a disease. Is it just for business to call it a disease? I find this to be an excuse so people with this disease spend money on obesity drugs and counseling. Treatment should be in educating people to follow a healthier lifestyle.

  • Diana
    Posted on

    I totally disagree. If you are obese is by choice, as Carol said people should watch what they eat.

  • Carol
    Posted on

    I don not agree obesity is a disease. I have hypothyriodism and could easily become overweight. But I watch what I eat, how much I eat and exercise daily. People need to be responsible for their own actions.

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