Sunday, June 23, 2013

AMA Decides Obesity is a Disease

The American Medical Association (AMA) decided, and it is their opinion, that obesity is a disease. Like every profession the AMA is an association that can be joined by doctors and medical students, but they have absolutely no authority to officially classify a disease. The World Health Organization and CDC can actually classify a disease, but so far they have not agreed that obesity is a disease. 

So, at the AMA’s annual convention this year, and against their own counsel’s advice, the majority voted to say obesity is a disease. Even after the AMA Council on Science and Public Health, which had examined the subject over the last year, declared that obesity should not be classified as a disease because the measure that is used to categorize obesity is flawed.  However, at their meeting the majority of physicians voted to say obesity was a disease. Therefore, it is now their opinion that 78 million or 1/3 of the US population has a disease.
Is calling a disease less of a stigma than telling a patient they have a serious risk factor they can influence.

Instead of doctors pushing for lifestyle changes does this open the door to more surgery, medications, and insurance reimbursement for obesity treatment?

For many years the CDC has recognized that the two biggest preventable causes of death are using tobacco products and obesity. Obesity is not a disease, but a risk factor for other diseases, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, etc.  

Should we now say smoking is a disease or is it still the cause of a disease? 

I am waiting for my first primary care patient to tell me they have the disease obesity. 
Yes obesity is serious, but instead of running for the knife lets first try:
Dietary changes
Exercise and activity
Behavior change
And if needed prescription weight-loss medications.  


PediNP said...

Love this! I've got nothing to add, you said it perfectly!

Andrea{TheUglyTruthMom} said...

who says calling it a disease changes the treatment options? I don't see the issue. I don't really agree that it is a disease myself, but don't see the category change as an issue.

Candi said...

Hmm I don't know about it being a disease, but it's dang sure an epidemic. I was comenting on this very thing today while I was at the lake noticing that every woman of every body type seems to think the bikini was made just for her. It's a serious problem & honestly I don't know what the answer is...On the other hand, I don't know why you're surprised by this, didn't you know it's the physician's world & we just live in it & must play by their rules always!