The Executive Committee of the TOS sought to establish a formal position statement on the issue of obesity. They commissioned a white paper that evaluated relevant arguments and convened a panel of experts representing scepticism and the belief that obesity is a disease. The panel discussed the various arguments and agreed that the highest standards of intellectual rigour should be applied. They deliberated on the differences of opinion until a consensus was reached.
Issues with declaring obesity a disease
Physicians voted to declare obesity a disease. Although this designation is a great step forward, it also has its problems. A study published in Psychological Science found that obese people exposed to the "obesity disease" message were less concerned about their weight and made poorer health decisions. The American Medical Association is not unanimous in their opinion. The council on Science and Public Health of the American Medical Association has also studied the issues surrounding this decision over the past year.
Impact of labelling obesity a disease on attitudes towards obese people
The impact of labelling obesity as a disease on attitudes towards obese people has been studied in a number of settings. The study focuses on the role of attribution and stigmatizing attitudes, as well as the importance of prevention support and education on obesity. It found that naming obesity as a disease was associated with lower levels of empathy and willingness to help people who are overweight. In the USA, for example, more people support policies that help prevent obesity and overweight children than do those who blame heredity.
AMA's recognition of obesity as a disease
The American Medical Association has finally recognized obesity as a disease. The medical community had largely ignored the issue until this point, but recently, the AMA voted to make obesity a disease. The recognition of obesity as a disease adds more momentum to the fight against obesity and the rising health crisis in the United States. While the move is to welcome the news, it is a small step toward a healthier lifestyle.
CMS's lack of recognition of obesity as a disease
In a recent decision, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) acknowledged that "obesity is a medical condition." Until now, insurers have largely refused to cover obesity treatment, even though obesity is a major risk factor for chronic diseases. This is a major irony in American health care, as obesity is the leading cause of diabetes and heart disease.
Other authoritative bodies views regarding obesity as a disease
There have been many thoughtful arguments on both sides of whether obesity is a disease. Although many of us may not agree, the vast majority of authoritative bodies and the general public support the designation of obesity as a disease. We should recognize that obesity is a disease that deserves to be treated properly.