Obesity Officially Classified as a Disease

In its annual meeting June 18, 2013, delegates from the American Medical Association (AMA) overwhelmingly approved a resolution recognizing obesity "as a disease state with multiple pathophysiology aspects requiring a range of interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention."

This decision is likely to affect national health policy and health insurance coverage for evaluating and managing obesity. It is also likely to encourage physicians to take obesity more seriously as they treat their patients with diabetes and heart disease, which are associated with obesity.

While the AMA's decision reflected a majority vote, some experts oppose the classification of obesity as a disease. According to a report issued by the AMA's Council on Science and Public Health, opponents of the resolution argued that "obesity results from personal choices to overeat or live a sedentary lifestyle."

Whether or not one agrees with the AMA's designation, obesity clearly impacts patients' lives in myriad ways. A recent ABC News story shared 7 Surprising Effects of Obesity, not just on health but all facets of life.

For example, consider the shrinking wallet effect: obese women earn close to $9000 less than thinner colleagues per year, and for males, the difference is close to $5000 per year on average.

Marc Bessler, MD, Director, Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery, discusses the association between excess weight, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and infertility, just one of the many compelling health reasons to maintain a healthy weight.

See the June 18, 2013 New York Times story about the AMA's decision, and the arguments for and against the resolution.
To read about the other surprising health effects of obesity, please see the June 12, 2013 ABC News story.
More about the Health Risks of Obesity is available at the Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery or by calling 212.305.4000.