On June 19, the American Medical Association (AMA), the largest professional society for physicians in the United States, changed its classification of obesity to a disease from its prior designation as a “chronic illness.” The policy was approved by the organization at its annual conference. While the AMA is not the first group to make this distinction, the size and authority of the organization is expected to have an impact on research and the treatment of obesity in the coming years.
Obesity contributes to a number of risk factors in terms of an individual’s health, including that of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, stroke and other chronic conditions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an estimated 35 percent of American adults are considered obese according to the current definition, which is having a body-mass index of 30 or more.
Morgan Downey, the publisher of the Downey Obesity Report, an online magazine which advocates for obese individuals, spoke with The New York Times following the announcement.
“I think you will probably see from this physicians taking obesity more seriously, counseling their patients about it,” Downey told the newspaper. “Companies marketing the products will be able to take this to physicians and point to it and say, ‘Look, the mother ship has now recognized obesity as a disease.'”
Given the detrimental health effects brought on by obesity, it is critical that those who are affected work to reduce their weight and improve their quality of life through diet and exercise.
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