Discussion: Obesity is now labeled as a Disease.

by Danica on June 25, 2013

On Friday, I shared with you this article from the Huffington Post.

The article shares the news that the American Medical Association has labeled Obesity as a Disease.

obesity is a disease

{source}

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There are all sorts of varying opinions about this…and I want to know yours.

I’m genuinely curious in what you all think.

I’ll kick off this discussion with my thoughts on the issue….

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I have mixed feelings about it…

For one thing, I’m thankful that Obesity is finally being recognized (and taken seriously) as a life-threatening state.  That’s exactly what it is – a condition in which the body is ultimately being destroyed.  Obesity is a serious, serious problem in this country – it needs to be addressed and and the trend needs to be reversed.

On the other hand, and predominantly,
I fear that labeling Obesity as “a disease” will be code for “an excuse.”
I fear that labeling Obesity as a disease will lead to more prescriptions of pharmaceutical drugs rather than necessary lifestyle changes.

Obesity is a not a cause, Obesity is an effect.

It is a reflection of a lifestyle - many factors come into play, and if the correct changes are made, an obese person can bring themselves to a healthy weight.

I believe our country needs to be educated – we need to be open about our state of health, welcoming to new (healthier) ways of living, and willing to change.  We have to be proud of making healthier choices and not be afraid to “go against the crowd” in terms of lifestyle.

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I could write pages more, but ultimately (and in a nutshell),that’s my point of view…now let’s hear yours.

*all perspectives are welcome, of course – I just ask that everyone comments in a respectful manner.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alisha @ Gluten Free Perspective June 25, 2013 at 7:03 am

I have mixed opinions for sure, but ultimately I’m hoping that maybe in the long run, it’ll help people realize how serious obesity is and inspire/encourage them to take active steps to a healthy weight/lifestyle.

I just hope that people/companies don’t try to take advantage of the new label by pushing surgeries, drugs, expensive diet plans, gimmicks, etc. This is coming from someone who has technically been obese based on the the BMI scale, so I know and believe it’s possible to regain your health the old fashioned way!! It’s definitely not easy, but very possible.

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2 Danica June 26, 2013 at 8:26 am

You’re right that it’s not an easy feat but absolutely possible and worth it!
I have the same hope as you, girl – I hope it inspires people to take action rather than being persuaded by those (potentially upcoming) drugs.

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3 Sarah @ A Refining Adventure June 25, 2013 at 7:33 am

Like you, I’m glad obesity is being recognized for the life threatening situation that it is. However, I’m afraid that it’ll become an excuse. I just hope people don’t start using it as a crutch to NOT do certain things (like exercise) or to GET certain things (like extra benefits/accommodations at work, unnecessary help from the government, etc.). I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens! And keep our fingers crossed that the obesity “diagnoses” is not taken advantage of.

Thanks for sparking the conversation!
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4 Danica June 26, 2013 at 8:27 am

Gosh, I hadn’t even thought about any sort of benefits/accommodations workplaces might make. I really hope that doesn’t happen – it shouldn’t in my opinion – because that would ultimately be encouraging the unhealthy lifestyle :(

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5 Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom June 25, 2013 at 8:09 am

I agree with you in that my first thought was that it was going to be considered an excuse. There are many people who will not change their ways after being “diagnosed” as obese. A lot of people in our society are looking for reasons to work less, take more rest, and justify the way they are. I think that this medical diagnosis is the justification that many people are looking for. I’m interested to see how insurance companies will handle “obesity cases.” I’m sure many new pills will be released, but i’m hoping that before doctors prescribe pills to treat this “disease,” they prescribe a diet and exercise routine.
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6 Danica June 26, 2013 at 8:30 am

I’m curious about insurance, too. I suppose that most people who get Type 2 Diabetes, which is considered a disease, get it because of their lifestyle choices, so unfortunately it would make sense that those adjustments would be made for obesity too.

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7 Heather @fitncookies June 25, 2013 at 8:17 am

Oh man, I have the same feelings. I heard about this last week and had to take some time to gather my thoughts. I obviously feel bad for those who are addicted to food and are obese. I have no idea what they feel like everyday. However, I do not think labeling it as a disease is the most helpful thing for them. If they are just going to prescribe drugs, what is that helping? They will never learn to live a healthy lifestyle like they need to. I think rather than labeling it, we should help overcome it. If people are obese, they should be entered into counseling and work towards losing weight rather than just being given something or having surgery because it is a disease they have. I know many many people who were obese and changed their lifestyle to overcome it! It can be done!
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8 Danica June 26, 2013 at 8:32 am

I agree! I think there’s a deep, underlying reason for why a person has that food addiction, and counseling would be a fantastic place to start – to sort out whatever issues/struggles there may be so that the person can move forward towards a healthier life!

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9 Alyssa June 25, 2013 at 9:03 am

I feel that exact way! It is crucial that our country becomes more aware of this issue but I don’t think calling it a disease is the right way to go. I like how you said that it isn’t a cause but an effect. I totally agree that calling it a disease will give those who are an obese an excuse to be how they are and not try to fix it (this seems to be a trend with some other diseases too.. especially in this country!). We need to make it known ways to change lifestyles, a healthier way!

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10 Danica June 26, 2013 at 8:33 am

Absolutely! Instead of showing commercials and billboards for fast food and drugs, let’s share tips for making each day a little healthier!

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11 Laura June 25, 2013 at 9:47 am

“Obesity is not a cause it is an effect” is basically how I feel. I don’t like that it is now going to be used as an “excuse” even more so than it already was.

Doctors and medications are not the answer for obesity. Lifestyle changes are. Eat better and get moving. I know that it can be hard for some, but you have to start somewhere.

People can say I don’t understand because I have never struggled with obesity: truth, I have never been obese…I don’t have some inspiring weight loss story. Have I mentally struggled with my weight before, yep. I have spent my whole life being active and trying to maintain healthy state. I give people credit who lose a ton of weight and make themselves healthier, but what about the people who never let themselves get to that point? Maybe that is rude of me to say, but I feel like it’s only going to get worse now that obesity is a disease. People are going to be less inclined to make better choices to get out of the state they are in. And people are going to be less likely to make changes to keep themselves from getting to that point because if it’s labeled as a disease it’s “more acceptable” by society. Maybe I am way off base, but I just think this was not the right move by the AMA.
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12 Danica June 26, 2013 at 8:35 am

I love what you said here, Laura. I personally used to be very unhealthy, even though my weight didn’t put me near the “obese” category. It was a struggle many days to get to where I am now – at a much healthier place – and no matter the struggle to get here, I still consciously make choices every day to be healthy.
Everyone has some kind of story about getting to the place where they are, and no one truly gets an easy way out.

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13 Tara@PNWRunner June 25, 2013 at 2:46 pm

I agree with your thoughts. I am afraid that people will start using it as an excuse instead of dealing with it and making necessary changes. Our world is already filled with excuses, we need solutions to the problems.
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14 Danica June 26, 2013 at 8:35 am

amen!

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15 Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy June 25, 2013 at 9:58 pm

I really think it should be seen as a type of eating disorder, which is now usually considered a disease. There has to be a reason people get to the point of obesity, and the root of the problem (most likely, emotional) needs to be found. They have eating disorder clinics for people who are underweight, so why not have clinics for people who are overweight? I definitely agree that it can’t be solved with a little pill or serious surgery — I really think these people deserve to talk to someone about it and explore all options. If only Jillian Michaels could impact everyone!

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16 Danica June 26, 2013 at 8:37 am

YES! Such a good point, Emily….I agree that it IS an eating disorder. Is it not technically labeled as that? It should be, in my opinion….
I definitely think that counseling would be an ideal place for an obese person to start because there’s an underlying reason for the type of relationship they have with food and their self-image. Yes, if only Jillian Michaels could help everyone :)

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17 Alyssa @ See This Girl Run June 25, 2013 at 10:55 pm

I agree with you. This helps give some more severity to the situation but also sounds like an excuse, if used inappropriately. It’s a disease you bring on yourself, not something that happens to you. But I truly hope that overall this is a beneficial change.
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18 Danica June 26, 2013 at 8:38 am

I really hope this results in a positive change too, Alyssa. I can see it going both ways, but I suppose that we can do our best to at least encourage, inspire, and educate the people we personally come in contact with. I know that it’s those little influences that can make a world of a difference!

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19 Jessica @ Prayers and Apples June 26, 2013 at 9:40 am

I’ve been wanting to post on the same issue but everything’s been so crazy here w/moving, job hunting, etc. – hopefully I’ll be able to finish something for next week! Until then, here’s my thoughts in a nutshell (I don’t think you’ll be too surprised lol):

I think over-medicalizing natural life (by that I mean: sleep patterns, weight regulation, mood fluctuations, etc.) is a dangerous encroachment on individuality – it frightens people into striving towards a standard of ‘normalcy’ defined by medical/governmental committees and boards. Perhaps even more dangerous is what happens during that pursuit of ‘perfection’: the prescription of pills and treatments and therapies – the side-effects of which are, nine times out of ten, more harmful than the initial problem (if one even really existed!)

(Now that I got my rant and rave out of the way… lol) My own emotional convictions aside, I think the AMA’s classification is unnecessary if it’s goal is really to provide more accessible treatment options to those suffering with weight problems. Disordered eating habits are already classified by the APA (American Psychiatric Association) and are therefore coverable under insurance standards. Thyroid and other biological causes of excessive weight gain are already covered by the AMA. (In other words: people genuinely suffering from real problems leading to obesity – psychological and physiological – already have appropriate services available to them.) I believe adding an all-encompassing ‘obesity’ umbrella just opens the flood gates for one-third of all Americans to label themselves with a disease (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over one-third of all Americans are currently obese) – and, more dangerously: opens the flood gates for pharmaceutical companies to begin their campaign for its ‘cure.’
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