It has finally happened. The American Medical Association has, by decision of its House of Delegates, published a statement to the effect that any obesity is disease. Basically, the statement notes that the condition of obesity is congruent with all of the AMA standards for defining a disease.
Definition of Disease
The American Medical Association defines a disease by its ability to impair normal bodily functions. A disease has characteristic signs and symptoms which will lead to physical harm and poor health. Apparently, obesity of any degree now meets this AMA criteria.
The AMA’s House of Delegates is probably the last organization to recognize obesity as disease. As it stands, the World Health Organization, the FDA, the NIH, and even the IRS regard it as such but just now the AMA has stepped in.
There have been arguments that obesity is really just an unhealthy lifestyle choice and not a disease. There is this idea that it is just a result of people eating too much and not getting enough exercise, which is actually true but not the entirety of the truth.
The new AMA policy suggests that such thought is invalid. It is likened to the thought that lung cancer would not be a disease since it arises from a choice to inhale cigarette smoke on a regular basis. Now it is understood that there are many factors underlying excess body weight.
It has long been known and understood by doctors that having too much weight on the body offers a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and joint disease among other serious issues. In fact, obesity rates have reached an all-time high in the United States.
As it turns out, over one in three adults in the United States is obese and this is from information provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate is even higher in black Americans not of Hispanic Decent. Children are at a tripled rate since 1980.
Policy with Purpose
This new policy was not designed to make people who are fat to feel bad. In fact, the idea is to open up the territory for patients to discuss their body weight with their doctors in order to find some lasting solutions. Doctors need to discuss with patients the real implications of being obese. They are serious.
At the same time, many people who are overweight have trouble losing weight and this is for various different reasons. Even a healthy attempt to lose weight could trigger the body to hold onto more weight. This is just the way the body reacts.
The policy is set to open doors for physicians to offer options to patients as they are obese or are becoming so. It should be regarded as good news because this epidemic is intense and seriously affecting the health of countless Americans.
Now there will be new options open to many people. Doctors can help in dealing with the body’s responses to dieting and exercise.