Obesity recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association (AMA)—Is it too late?

The AMA announced on Tuesday that they would finally be recognizing obesity as a disease after historically being considered a ‘condition’ or ‘disorder’. According to the New York Times, their hope is that the new description will cause an increased focus on tackling the medical issue, including more reimbursements from insurers for treatments such as drugs, surgery and counseling.

However, does this change come too late in the game?

It’s no secret that obesity is on a rampant upswing in the United States. With numbers from the American Heart Association (AHA) showing that over one-third of U.S adults are obese, it’s obvious that this reality did not occur overnight. Had this disease recognition been made earlier, could this high obesity rate have been avoided? And we also have to think about the younger generations–children are being affected as well. According to the AHA, about 1 in 3 kids and teens is overweight or obese, which is nearly triple the rate in 1963.

Some debates

There have been debates on the definition change, most notably the Council on Science and Public Health, who believes that obesity does not have a clear enough set of specific associated symptoms to be classified as a disease. In addition, they expressed that measuring obesity by body mass index (BMI) has “existing limitations [to diagnose obesity].”

One supporter, Morgan Downey, obesity advocate and publisher of the online Downey Obesity Report said, “I think you will probably see from this physicians taking obesity more seriously, counseling their patients about it.”

So, what will happen?

It’s still unclear yet whether the new disease classification will cause improvements or additional problems, but we would love to hear what other health professionals are thinking about the new change. Do you think that this will have beneficial impacts on the obese population, do you foresee issues forming as a result, or do you think the change was made too late?

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