The American Medical Association has adopted a policy formally classifying obesity as a disease, for which a range of medical interventions is required to advance treatment and prevention.
“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans,” AMA board member Patrice Harris, MD, said in a news release.
“The AMA is committed to improving health outcomes and is working to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, which are often linked to obesity.”
The classification is key to encouraging insurance companies to cover a wider range of treatments for obesity and related comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, which sponsored the resolution.
“Past efforts to contain obesity as a social and lifestyle phenomenon have failed and have led the nation to the point of epidemic obesity in our country,” according to the AACE, which noted obesity is estimated to cause at least 112,000 deaths nationwide each year.
The AACE said based on accumulating scientific evidence, it concluded “that the disease of obesity must be addressed using a robust medical model for treatment and prevention that includes lifestyle modifications, medications and surgery together with interventions targeted to public education, behavioral change and the built environment.”