American Medical Association Declares Obesity a Disease

By  , LA Times
Jun 19, 2013

obese family

The American Medical Association on Tuesday declared that obesity is a disease. This move implies that about 78 million adults and 12 million children in America are suffering from a medical condition that needs to be treated. The vote was decided after the leading physicians organization took the step after debating whether the action will do more help to the affected patients to help them seek effective treatment or further stigmatize the condition.

The members of the AMA’s House of Delegates rejected any cautionary advice from their experts and put forth the new status to a condition that affects more than one-third of the adults and about 17 per cent of the children in the United States.

"Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately 1 in 3 Americans," said Dr. Patrice Harris, an AMA board member.

The vote will step up the pressure on health insurance companies to reimburse physicians for participating in time-consuming discussions related to obesity’s health risks with the patients whose body mass index exceeded 30. This will also encourage the doctors to direct  the patients to weight-loss programs and monitor their often-fitful progress.

The documents in the past have listed obesity as an urgent chronic condition, a major health concern and a complex disorder.

Dr. Daniel H. Bessesen, an endocrinologist and obesity expert at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, called the AMA's shift "a double-edged sword." Though the semantic change may reflect "a growing awareness that obesity is not someone's fault," he worried that "the term disease is stigmatizing, and people who are obese don't need more stigmatizing."

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