Obesity is a disease according to the American Medical Association. The official designation was announced during the AMA’s annual conference in Chicago.
Association members hope the designation will facilitate treatment of obesity related conditions, including heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. As reported by The New York Times, Dr. Patrice Harris applauds the decision. She explains how the designation may be helpful for doctors and patients:
“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans.”
Additionally, the designation may improve guidelines for obesity related medications, therapy, and surgery.
Despite the positive aspects, critics contend that calling obesity a disease is misleading. The decision to designate obesity as a disease was made by AMA’s House of Delegates. However, the association’s Council on Science and Public Health advised against it.
The council criticized the designation, as obesity is largely determined by measuring the body mass index, or BMI. Doctors with the council argue that patients who are perfectly healthy may register higher on the BMI, while those who are not considered obese may have a higher amount of unhealthy body fat.
These contradictions can lead to wrongful assumptions. As the measures are inaccurate and often flawed, they recommended not classifying obesity as a disease.
As reported by the Washington Times, other critics of the designation point out that in most cases, obesity can be avoided, reduced, or eliminated through self-control and diligence.
Three main points are recommended, including monitoring intake, exercising, and getting counseling for mental and emotional health issues. These suggestions are perfectly logical and may work for many who struggle with their weight.
Unfortunately, for others, controlling weight can be a constant and devastating battle. People rarely choose to become obese.
The AMA’s resolution pointed out that metabolic and hormonal disease can contribute to obesity. Additionally, they explained that while lifestyle choices may contribute to obesity, the same can be said for cancer. Obesity is a disease, according to the AMA, despite causation of the condition.