After years of deliberation, the American Medical Association (AMA) has officially recognized obesity as a disease. The decision came at the association’s annual meeting in Chicago earlier this month. In the past the AMA and others have referred to obesity as “a major public health problem” versus a disease. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) was the sponsor of the resolution to the debate whether obesity should or should not be considered a disease. AACE was joined by many other specialty and state medical societies in advocating for recognition of obesity as a disease.
AACE advocated its position in light of the abundance of clinical evidence to identify obesity as a multi-metabolic and hormonal disease state, producing signs, symptoms, and morbidity which satisfies the AMA’s definition of a disease. Obesity also increases the risk of other health conditions and diseases including certain cancers, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more. The medical cost of adult obesity in the United States is estimated to be between $147 billion to $210 billion a year. The CDC reports that 60 million Americans age 20 and older are obese and that obesity causes 111,909 to 365,000 deaths each year. That is 1,000 people a day dying from obesity.
“The suggestion that obesity is not a disease but rather a consequence of a chosen lifestyle exemplified by overeating and/or inactivity is equivalent to suggesting that lung cancer is not a disease because it was brought about by individual choice to smoke,” the resolution said.
Now what does this mean for healthcare for the disease of obesity?
“The most important aspect of the AMA decision is that the AMA is a respected representative of American medicine. Their opinion can influence policy makes who are in a position to do more to support interventions and research to prevent and treat obesity,” said Samuel Klien, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The AACE concludes in their resolution that the disease of obesity must be addressed using a robust medical model for treatment and prevention that includes lifestyle modifications, medications, and surgery together with interventions targeted to public education and behavioral change.
The medical treatment of obesity and obesity related diseases could be changing in the near future for the better with the release of this decision by the AMA. FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital’s Bariatric Center has been and will continue to treat patients in the Pinehurst, Raeford, Sanford, Lumberton, Laurinburg, Troy, and Rockingham regions of North Carolina with obesity.
To learn more about the weight-loss options the FirstHealth Bariatric Center provides you can attend a free weight-loss surgery information session on the first Thursday or the third Monday of the month. For more information, call (800) 213-3284.