Is Obesity a Disease?

Is Obesity a Disease?

Obesity is right now one of the most serious health challenge in the United States. While the medical community agrees that obesity is a matter urgently seeking medical attention, there has been an ongoing debate as to whether or not obesity should be classified as a disease. On one side, proponents argue that classifying obesity as a disease could cause obese people to seek more medical help, whether from a specialist or from regular check-ins with a local family doctor. Opponents say that obesity is a lifestyle issue that can be changed through healthy habits and does not require medical treatment. Medical practitioners hope this change will help doctors to better treat the complex condition and aid in the fight against type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  Obesity is a major cause of preventable death and also exposes people to the risk of other health issues like high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Obesity has been viewed as a precursor to disease and was called a “condition” but on June 18, 2013 the American Medical Association voted to recognize obesity as a disease. This implies that 78 million American adults and 12 million kids are presently officially recognized by the largest association of physicians in America as having a medical condition that requires medical interventions for treatment and counteractive action.

However, some people have strongly criticized labelling obesity a disease and they argued further that except a person is obese to the extent that it affects/diminishes the well-being and quality of life of that person, obesity should not be called a disease. Many also believe that labelling obesity a disease means that it will be identified mainly as a medical problem hence, can only be treated by surgery or pharmaceuticals. But it should be noted that obesity is best prevented or treated by regular exercise and a better diet. Pundits have additionally called attention to the fact that overweight people are already ostracized by the media, and now, the stigma will only increase. Classifying obesity as a disease is a double-edged sword. Some doctors worry that patients considered obese by various measures such as BMI (Body Mass Index) may “otherwise be fit and healthy” and not require aggressive weight loss treatment. BMI is a simple height-to-weight formula that doesn’t accurately represent percentages and distribution of body fat. Categorizing obesity as a disease based on BMI could lead to overtreatment by physicians.

In conclusion, calling obesity a disease is a move for the better and at times we find it difficult to avoid weight gain. The important thing is to get programs and supports in place to address it, as health plans have done and are doing and I am sure in a couple of years, the number of obese should drastically reduce along with the diseases associated with obesity. Their decision can also influence policy makers who are in a position to do more to support interventions and research to prevent and treat obesity. Public policy makers should respond positively to the opinion of medical practitioners and formulate policies that will address issues of arising from obesity. Further, it is important that the medical community as well as the public and insurers drop their stereotypic perceptions of those who are obese, and elevate their condition to that of other disease conditions along with respect for those who are suffering.

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