The American Medical Association declared that obesity is officially a disease. The decision came during the group’s annual meeting in Chicago on Tuesday, June 18, 2013.
Declaring obesity a disease means that it requires medical interventions for treatment as well as prevention strategies. The fact is that one-third of Americans – including children – are obese.
RTI International, a non-profit research institute, told USA Today that if the obesity trend continues, by 2030 about 42 percent of Americans will be obese. Something has to change.
What is Obesity?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines obesity by using the body mass index, or BMI. Your BMI is based on your height and weight – and for most people correlates with the amount of body fat you have. For example, an adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and those with a BMI of 30 and higher are considered obese.
However, according to the New York Times, some of the A.M.A. delegates were quick to point out that relying on the BMI number is flawed because someone who has a higher BMI can be perfectly healthy, whereas someone who is below the obese line can have high levels of body fat.
Dr. Harris, member of the A.M.A. board told the New York Times, “Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans.” The A.M.A. hopes that classifying obesity as a disease will take away the common perception that obese people just eat too much and exercise too little. However, the CDC points out that the cause of obesity is just that.