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Opinion piece on the AMA's classification of obesity as a disease

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I just thought this piece that I found on was interesting because I find this debate very interesting. On the one hand, I totally understand that classifying obesity as a disease could potentially help a lot of people get insurance coverage for treatments that might help them that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to afford. On the other hand…it just doesn’t quite sit right with me. I don’t know that I think obesity itself is a disease; I think that some of the underlying conditions contributing to people’s obesity could be, but not all of them. Emotional eating/disordered eating/food addiction – those are mental health diseases, perhaps. But plenty of people just don’t have the right education or motivation – which was my own problem – to make the right choices even though they could totally lose weight and get healthy if they put the effort in. I was obese, but I don’t think I was diseased. I think I was embarrassed and lazy and loved food and stress-ate and didn’t understand counting calories or proper portion sizes or the importance of daily exercise. Once all those things got straightened out and I put a little time into myself, I got healthy. So in my case, it wasn’t a “disease” in the way that I think of other diseases being – something you can’t control, that just sneaks up and gets you rather than your own lifestyle causing it. In other cases, many people certainly are obese due to serious medical conditions and legitimate diseases, particularly mental health “diseases.” But obesity itself in those cases is more a symptom or a side effect than a disease in and of itself, in my mind. Maybe. There's a good chance I am wrong about this. :) I’ll have to give it more thought; I’m always willing to revise my opinions since lord knows that I am an expert in absolutely nothing and my thoughts are not always right in the end…but for now, I’m more inclined to disagree with the AMA on this one. I don’t know that I think it will create an even stronger fat bias in our culture, as the author of this CNN opinion piece claims, but I just don’t think of obesity itself as a disease in most cases. To me, it’s like saying smoking is a disease, when the actual disease is just the addiction aspect of it. Then again, perhaps that’s not a perfect analogy. And lung cancer, the result/side of effect of smoking, is certainly a disease. Hmmmmm. Yup, definitely need to give this some more thought before deciding how I feel about this topic! But I just wanted to kind of explore my thoughts about it all "out loud."
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