Yesterday, at their annual meeting, the American Medical Association decided to classify obesity as a disease. They hope this change will help doctors to better treat the complex condition and aid in the fight against type 2 diabetes and heart disease. While The New York Times reports that the AMA's decision has no legal authority, some medical professionals think the outcome will result in sweeping changes.
Proponents of the decision say that this could help people get coverage for obesity treatments from their insurance companies, just as insurance companies provide coverage for other health conditions. Others worry that because the tool most commonly used to measure obesity, the BMI chart, is flawed, that recognizing obesity as a disease won't result in better treatment for patients.
A small debate has already started in the health and medical community about this news, as well as on the SparkPeople Message Boards and members are divided. One member noted that while she thinks it's too early in our understanding of obesity to classify it as a disease, this change might help remove some of the stigma overweight people face and make it easier for them to seek help. Another member calls the decision "ridiculous" because she thinks people will use the designation as an excuse not to make lifestyle changes.
While it's much too early to really know how this shift may affect insurance coverage for obesity treatments, it's nice to think that doctors might change their approach to dealing with obese patients. Instead of just telling them to lose weight or to simply eat less and exercise more (standard advice many people receive without any real support or resources to make it happen), maybe obese patients will receive better interventions and treatment plans that really work.
Take our poll: Do you think obesity should be classified as a disease?
What do you think? Should obesity be classified as a disease? Do you think this decision will result in positive or negative changes?
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