Is Obesity Now Considered A Disease?

Depending on where you look, the definition of a ‘disease’ includes such phrases as a change from the normal state, a state of disorder, an abnormal or pathologic condition of the body, and being in dis-ease. A disease can be brought about by personal factors, genetics, environmental influences, and lifestyle habits. Common diseases include autoimmune conditions, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, thyroid problems, cancer, endometriosis, ulcers, acne or more. As of June 2013, the American Medical Association (AMA) has recognized obesity as a disease which could change the way insurance companies reimburse on prevention and treatment options for weight loss however those that oppose the AMA feel that obesity requires some personal responsibility as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 36% of Americans are in the obese category. The classifications for ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’ are not perfect however the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart is most commonly used as it takes into account height and weight but not bone structure or lean muscle ratio. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a normal, healthy weight. Between 25 and 29.9 is in the overweight category and above 30 is officially classified as obese. To give you an example, a 5’6” woman who weighs roughly between 160 and 185 pounds is considered overweight however if she weighs above 185 pounds then she is obese. Another example would be a 5’4” woman who weighs between 145 and 175 pounds is considered overweight and if she were over 175 pounds she is considered obese.

As many in the health field feel that abdominal obesity is more concerning as it means there is increased fat around the key abdominal organs, the waist circumference is gaining popularity when determining overweight, obesity and health risks. Measure around your abdomen just above your hip bones (not necessarily your narrowest section) and women should be under 35 inches and men under 40 inches. Higher numbers equals an increased girth which increases the risk for high blood sugar/pre-diabetes/diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and overall increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

The overall concern is that excess weight can lead to long term consequences that could be preventable and there is an ongoing national push to get America healthier, reduce the number of obese and overweight adults and children, educate on proper nutrition, eliminate high sugar foods and drinks and encourage regular exercise. Obesity is costing Americans millions of dollars as it can also cause an increased risk of cancer, joint pain, sleep problems, lethargy and more. Please do not be a statistic – educate yourself and your family and start making healthy changes today!

References:
1. Frellick, M. AMA Considers Obesity A Disease. Web. 23 June, 2013.
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/806566
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Adult Obesity Facts. Web. 23 June, 2013.
http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Defining Overweight and Obese. Web. 23 June, 2013.
http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html
4. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. According to Waist Circumference. Web. 23 June, 2013.
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/e_txtbk/txgd/4142.htm

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