Obesity the Disease

The American Medical Association declared that Obesity is a disease. Should it be so defined, and what are the implications?

First of all, let’s be honest about why the United States is the most obese country in the world. We’re lazy. Americans circle parking lots to find a space close to the front door. We will drive our vehicles two blocks to get a pack of cigarettes, or a bag of chips, we won’t walk. We’ll play video games for hours, but never set foot on a baseball diamond, basketball court, or soccer field. We allow our teenagers to have all the electronic toys available in their rooms, which they seldom leave.

Secondly, our eating habits are atrocious. Freshly cooked food, containing vegetables, and more fish or boneless, skinless chicken should be the norm in American homes, but it’s not. Fast food, take-home meals, and pre-prepared foods are the staple for far too many people. And we snack. Our snacks are more likely to be chips, or microwaved ‘pizza rolls’ instead of fruit. No other country snacks like Americans.

Unhealthy lifestyle is the principal cause for our obese society. The medical profession is celebrating the AMA labeling obesity a disease, but why?
There are some doctors who met at the AMA’s annual meeting in mid-June who believed its decision was incorrect. They stated the fact that for some overweight men and women blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol tests were normal if they walked at a moderate pace for 30 minutes five days a week. The tests were compared to test results of sedentary people of average weight.

But the majority of doctors were concerned with medical treatment from pills to the extremes of stomach stapling, and lap-band surgery.
“I’m OK with it,” said Timothy Church, director of preventive medicine research at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “If that’s what it’s going to take to get reimbursement for treatments.”

In other words, it’s a new business for the medical profession, and they are now able to seek reimbursement from insurance companies.
(Did you know that walking, jogging, or riding a bicycle is free?)

The definition of obesity as a measure of body mass index; a calculation based on weight in relation to height, is tied to disease risks. “The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers,” states the National Institutes of Health on its website.

Another statement, indicating the real reason for declaring obesity a disease:

“I think the debate is semantic. If calling obesity a disease will coax insurance companies into providing proper coverage, then I’m all for it,” said Dr. David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital.
I know I’m ancient, and those of us who are will tell you that when we were teenagers, many of us were underweight, and very few overweight. Of course televisions were in the early stages of being affordable for the average home. We hadn’t dreamed of computers, cell phones, X-boxes, or PlayStations.
We were outside, playing sports, or walking to a friend’s house, or even the library. (We had to research the information needed for school projects in books, there was no ‘Wikipedia.’)

Sadly, there are certain medical reasons for an individual being obese. And medical care is necessary for controlling the condition. But for most Americans the cause is lifestyle. Unfortunately, we are the nation of the ‘quick fix.’ We don’t want to modify our bad eating habits, and ‘stick to’ an exercise program. We want to lose 50 pounds in a single week.

Labeling obesity a disease is a self-serving act by the AMA. Their decision will encourage millions more overweight individuals to seek medical care instead of changing their lifestyles. A medical solution to weight loss does not guarantee good health, making good choices will.

Alfred James reporting


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