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Obesity Labeled as a Disease by the American Medical Association

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Obesity Labeled as a Disease by the American Medical Association

Obesity-related health conditions cost more than $150 billion in healthcare spending every year and result in an estimated 300,000 premature deaths annually. Until recently, healthcare providers were more focused on treating health conditions that result from obesity, rather than obesity itself.

Earlier this year, The American Medical Association (AMA) made the decision to label obesity as a disease. What is the real benefit of the label? David Atkinson, MBA, partner at Cooper Consulting Partners explains.

What does the label change?

The benefit to the decision to label obesity as a disease is that it calls more attention to obesity. Obesity can result in serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, joint conditions, high blood pressure and stroke (to name a few). Until this summer, obesity was considered a risk factor for these health conditions, rather than a disease itself. Now that the AMA has labeled obesity as a disease, the focus can be taken off the cosmetic, outward appearance of obesity and put on the devastating health consequences of obesity. With the label, more government funding and research effort can be put toward obesity, encouraging developments of new therapies and treatments.

Now that obesity is considered a disease, more insurance providers may start providing coverage and reimbursement for obesity treatments such as surgery and medications and for counseling and prevention programs.

How is obesity measured?

Obesity is determined using weight and height to calculate an individual’s body mass index (BMI). Though not 100 percent accurate, for most people, this number correlates with their amount of body fat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an adult who has a BMI 25-29.9 is considered overweight. An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. An adult’s waist circumference, blood pressure and level of physical activity may also be used to determine risk of obesity-related health conditions.

For children and adolescents, obesity is also measured using height and weight measurements to calculate BMI. Those numbers are then plotted on the CDC’s BMI-for-age group charts (one for boys and one for girls) to obtain the child’s percentile ranking.

  • Children who rank less than the 5th percentile are considered underweight.
  • Children who rank in the 5th to 85th percentile are considered healthy weight.
  • Children who rank in the 85th to 95th percentile are considered overweight.
  • Children who rank equal to or greater than the 95th percentile are considered obese.

Now that obesity is considered a disease, treatment and preventive measures may be taken more seriously. If obesity is prevented or treated in childhood, it can help reduce more serious weight-related health conditions as a child reaches adulthood, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Comunications