Obesity As Disease?

By Ignatius Larner

The American Medical Association (AMA) confirmed last week that it will join the World Health Organization in recognizing obesity as a disease. Before the vote, the AMA's Council on Science and Public Health said that the new distinction "could result in greater investments by government and the private sector to develop and reimburse obesity treatments."

The number of obese persons is rising constantly through the past decades. Obesity rates have doubled among adults in the last twenty years and tripled among children in a single generation. The most recent statistics is reporting that 66% of American adults are overweight or obese, with 1 in 3 adults meeting the criteria for obesity.

Obesity has been associated with many common diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic joint pain. There is no single cause for obesity. Medical conditions, medications and treatments can also result in obesity. Prevalence of obesity is found to be more common among those of lower socioeconomic status, and among certain minority populations.

Treatment of obesity is very demanding. Majority of the managements such as diet or exercise plans are not effective. Numerous so-called anti-obesity medications have been taken off the U.S. market because of their major side effects.

Weight loss surgery has shown some degree of success in managing obesity in the past years, and the number of individuals undergoing this type of surgery has increased by almost 50% from 2000 to 2005.

Based on research studies, obesity associated health expenses were estimated to be $147 billion in 2008.

In middle-age men, treatment of common obesity-linked conditions stroke, coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and high blood cholesterol levels resulted in roughly $9,000 to $17,000 higher costs compared to normal-weight adults.

Youth who are overweight or obese have markedly higher odds of being overweight or obese into adulthood.

Globally, an estimated 43 million children under age 5 were overweight or obese in 2010, a 60 percent increase since 1990.

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