The American Medical Association voted to classify obesity as a disease that requires medical treatment. The goal behind the ruling, according to the Los Angeles Times, makes treatment of obesity the professional obligation of a physician.
Previous research has shown that physicians don’t always discuss weight loss with patients. One study found that only half of obese patients had spoken about their weight with their doctor. One, the doctor previously wouldn’t be reimbursed for treating a patient’s obesity. But, obesity is also a difficult problem to discuss, and many have avoided it due to its uncomfortable nature. The new classification seeks to change how obesity is treated.
However, the decision has come with a significant debate. The AMA’s own Council of Science and Public Health actually recommended against classifying obesity as a disease. They argued that the decision would push patients towards surgical treatments or expensive pharmaceuticals.
The debate centers around one growing problem. Obesity rates have been growing for years. Over 78 million adults and 12 million children in the United States are considered obese. By 2030 over half of the U.S. population could be classified as obese.
The issue is not only obesity itself but the related health risks and rising costs that obesity can entail. Obesity is related to high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. It can have long-term health effects and affect an individual’s quality of life. And classifying it as a disease can significantly increase health costs for individuals and employers.
What do you think the effects of this new classification will be? Will it solve the problem? We’d love to hear from you.
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