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Obesity is no laughing matter.

Obesity is now a recognized disease.


Is Obesity a disease? Yes, says the world’s largest medical body the “American Medical Association (AMA). AMA has recognized obesity as a disease in its annual Chicago meet recently overriding a study committee’s recommendation to not to do so.

Obesity is usually determined by one's body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat based on ones height and weight. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese while a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight.

Dr. Abayomi Akanji, professor of medical sciences at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University in Hamden says that this AMA’s decision is long overdue.

Whether obesity should be called a disease has been a debatable subject for long and the Obesity Society in 2008 itself had issued its support for classifying obesity as a disease, says Morgan Downey, publisher of the online Downey Obesity Report.

The Internal Revenue Service had said that obesity treatments can qualify for tax deductions. However, in 2004, Medicare removed “obesity” from its coverage manual saying obesity was not a disease. Now a day after this AMA's decision, U.S. lawmakers introduced bipartisan bills that would necessitate Medicare to cover more obesity treatments and medications.

Doctors and other obesity experts feel this decision will motivate insurers to cover weight loss interventions like counseling, medications or surgery. Daniel Davis, chief of bariatric surgeons at Stamford Hospital's Center for Surgical Weight Loss says presently most policies don’t cover these, but now the situation will change since obesity is officially considered a disease and patients can access proven treatment. Donna Tommelleo, spokeswoman for the Connecticut Insurance Department, says that Bariatric surgery is not typically covered under individual and group plans and it will take some time for the legislative process to make it a covered benefit.

Patrice Harris, an AMA board member says "recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately 1 in 3 Americans and the AMA is committed to improving health outcomes and is working to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes that are often linked to obesity." However, according to Marlene Schwartz, director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, there are some people who have a BMI of 30, but eat a good diet, are physically active and extremely fit, who cannot be otherwise considered obese and are not at any risk for obesity-related health problems. Now these people are being told they have a disease. Already, some opine that BMI itself is an incorrect measurement of obesity, as it doesn't actually measure the fat, but calculates fat based on ones height and weight.

Anyway, the overall scenario is that most people have taken the AMA's decision as a positive step, including Karen Novak, outpatient nutrition educator at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, who says, often doctors will only ask obese patient with health problems to lose weight, without offering any kind of constructive solutions, but now physicians will need to improve their focus.

Watch the informational Video: Obesity in America!

Too much food?


“More die in the United States of too much food than of too little”

- John Kenneth Galbraith

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