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  1. #1
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    Default AMA declares obesity a disease

    The American Medical Assn. voted Tuesday to declare obesity a disease, a move that effectively defines 78 million American adults and 12 million children as having a medical condition requiring treatment.

    The nation's leading physicians organization took the vote after debating whether the action would do more to help affected patients get useful treatment or would further stigmatize a condition with many causes and few easy fixes.

    In the end, members of the AMA's House of Delegates rejected cautionary advice from their own experts and extended the new status to a condition that affects more than one-third of adults and 17% of children in the United States.

    "Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately 1 in 3 Americans," said Dr. Patrice Harris, an AMA board member.

    Tuesday's vote is certain to step up pressure on health insurance companies to reimburse physicians for the time-consuming task of discussing obesity's health risks with patients whose body mass index exceeds 30. It should also encourage doctors to direct these patients to weight-loss programs and to monitor their often-fitful progress.

    The federally funded Medicare program, which insures an estimated 13 million obese Americans who are over 65 or disabled, already covers the costs of "intensive behavioral therapy" for obese patients, as well as bariatric surgery for those with additional health conditions. But coverage for such obesity treatments has been uneven among private insurers.

    Insurers who are members of the California Assn. of Health Plans cover many services to treat medical conditions associated with obesity, including bariatric surgery and diabetes, said President and Chief Executive Patrick Johnston.

    The AMA's decision essentially makes diagnosis and treatment of obesity a physician's professional obligation. As such, it should encourage primary care physicians to get over their discomfort about raising weight concerns with obese patients. Studies have found that more than half of obese patients have never been told by a medical professional they need to lose weight — a result not only of some doctors' reluctance to offend but of their unwillingness to open a lengthy consultation for which they might not be reimbursed.

    Past AMA documents have referred to obesity as an "urgent chronic condition," a "major health concern" and a "complex disorder." The vote now lifts obesity above the status of a health condition, disorder or marker for heightened risk of disease — as high cholesterol is for heart disease, for instance.

    "As things stand now, primary care physicians tend to look at obesity as a behavior problem," said Dr. Rexford Ahima of University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism. "This will force primary care physicians to address it, even if we don't have a cure for it."

    The new designation follows a steep 30-year climb in Americans' weight — and growing public concern over the resulting tidal wave of expensive health problems. Treatment of such obesity-related illnesses as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers drives up the nation's medical bill by more than $150 billion a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Projected increases in the obesity rate could boost that figure by an additional $550 billion over the next 20 years, a recent Duke University study concluded.

    In laying out the case for and against the redefinition of obesity, the AMA's Council on Science and Public Health argued that more widespread recognition of obesity as a disease "could result in greater investments by government and the private sector to develop and reimburse obesity treatments."

    The Food and Drug Administration, which has approved just two new prescription weight-loss medications since 1999, would probably face increased pressure to approve new obesity drugs, spurring new drug development and more widespread prescribing by physicians, the council noted.

    "The greater urgency a disease label confers" also might boost support for obesity-prevention programs such as physical education initiatives and reforms to school lunch, the council added. In addition, it speculated that "employers may be required to cover obesity treatments for their employees and may be less able to discriminate on the basis of body weight."

    But the council also said that making obesity a disease could deepen the stigma attached to being overweight and doom some patients to endless nagging — even if they were otherwise healthy or had lost enough weight to improve their health.

    It might also shift the nation's focus too much toward expensive drug and surgical treatments and away from measures to encourage healthy diets and regular exercise, the council wrote in a background memo for AMA members.

    Dr. Daniel H. Bessesen, an endocrinologist and obesity expert at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, called the AMA's shift "a double-edged sword." Though the semantic change may reflect "a growing awareness that obesity is not someone's fault," he worried that "the term disease is stigmatizing, and people who are obese don't need more stigmatizing."

    http://www.latimes.com/news/science/...,4422080.story

    Wow! Open the flood gates. Now people can take even less responsibility for their situations.

  2. #2
    Hang 'Em High sickman's Avatar
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    Well, lets add stupidity and laziness to the list of diseases as well.

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk LLFHS's Avatar
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    They stop makin' these or something?

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  4. #4
    Forum Frontman It's Mike's Avatar
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    I understand the reason behind what they are doing here. It sounds bad but it's no worse than calling lung cancer (caused by smoking) a disease. Both are diseases caused by stupid behaviour but both are still diseases.

  5. #5
    Atomic Punk CaboChris's Avatar
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    12.09.17 @ 12:23 AM
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    Maybe I'm being too simplistic and Ive been known for it but I always assumed that a disease was something out of one's control like Leukemia or Parkinson's. I don't know why shoving a bottle of Smoking Loon in your face everyday(see what I did there) or Twinkies qualifies as having a disease.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by It's Mike View Post
    I understand the reason behind what they are doing here. It sounds bad but it's no worse than calling lung cancer (caused by smoking) a disease. Both are diseases caused by stupid behaviour but both are still diseases.
    Yup. Same with cirrhosis of the liver and many cardiac related illnesses.

  7. #7
    ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ Number 47's Avatar
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    You know, I may have laid on the couch after work all winter long and watched movies, ate popcorn with butter and enjoyed much ice cream and put on few pounds that weren't there last year, but there ain't no way in hell I'm ever gonna call it a disease if I can't turn it back around this summer. I would call it foolish and irresponsible though.

  8. #8
    Forum Frontman It's Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Number 47 View Post
    You know, I may have laid on the couch after work all winter long and watched movies, ate popcorn with butter and enjoyed much ice cream and put on few pounds that weren't there last year, but there ain't no way in hell I'm ever gonna call it a disease if I can't turn it back around this summer. I would call it foolish and irresponsible though.
    The question isn't really "should you consider a disease". The question is should your doctor consider a disease and therefore address it. I would think the answer is yes. That said, I would have thought they already did that.

    Sounds more like where this is going is "should health insurance companies be forced to pay for things like sugery, diet specialists, etc".

  9. #9
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    12.04.17 @ 04:15 PM
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    It's a tricky one, isn't it. I'm not convinced obesity is a disease, as of in itself, just as smoking and alcoholism aren't...They cause various illnesses, yes. But, on their own, I don't believe they constitute diseases.

    The problem is what to DO about all of these things. Let's be honest, we can't just leave fat, drunk, cigarette-smoking individuals to die, untreated, on the streets, even if we do think they 'deserve' it. And if we DO treat the end-result of their bad habits (as we are currently), it's going to continue to cost us a small fortune.

    The cheapest, long-term, solutions are to fund educational programmes to prevent the problem(s) occurring in the first place, and psychological therapy to help resolve it / them once they've taken hold, so that major medical intervention isn't, with a bit of luck, required further down the line. Now, if this means formally classifying addictions in all their various guises, as 'diseases', then that's just what we'll have to do, no matter how much it galls us.
    Last edited by dibblekins; 06.20.13 at 08:03 AM.
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  10. #10
    Forum Frontman It's Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dibblekins View Post
    It a tricky one, isn't it. I'm not convinced obesity is a disease, as of in itself, just as smoking and alcoholism aren't...They cause various illnesses, yes. But, on their own, I don't believe they constitute diseases.

    The problem is what to DO about all of these things. Let's be honest, we can't just leave fat, drunk, cigarette-smoking individuals to die, untreated, on the streets, even if we do think they 'deserve' it. And if we DO treat the end-result of their bad habits (as we are currently), it's going to continue to cost us a small fortune.

    The cheapest, long-term, solutions are to fund educational programmes to prevent the problem(s) occurring in the first place, and psychological therapy to help resolve it / them once they've taken hold, so that major medical intervention isn't, with a bit of luck, required further down the line. Now, if this means formally classifying addictions in all their various guises, as 'diseases', then that's just what we'll have to do, no matter how much it galls us.
    It really is a tricky one for govt's to deal with. Since this is a vice that alot more peopl have.

    I don't drink, I don't do drunk drugs, don't gamble all that much, really about the most responsible person you'd meet where vices are concerned. But I eat terribly. Is it a disease that I have no control of? No, it's just a series of bad choices made by me. The problem is a lot of people are making similarly bad choices. And it's gonna cost society a tonne of cash long term.

  11. #11
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    I have a crazy solution. Maybe fat people should eat less and exercise more.

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  12. #12
    Atomic Punk ziggysmalls's Avatar
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    This to me is no different than labeling Alcoholism as a disease. I don't buy it. Sorry but if a person was born on the island that Tom Hanks was stranded on, they would never become an alcoholic or obese. However they may get cancer or develop heart disease at an older age.

    Alzheimers is a disease. Being obese isn't and I technically am obese and know full well that if I chose not to eat crap, I wouldn't be as big. That said I run about 15 miles a week and lift weights. I choose to think "oh well burned 600 calories today, can have an extra helping."

    I know better and so do all 99% of people overweight. Now my wife has a Thyroid condition which makes it hard for her to lose weight. She eats on average about 1100 Calories a day and can't lose weight. However she would be the first one to admit that her weight isn't a disease. The Thyroid is.

  13. #13
    Atomic Punk Raldo's Avatar
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    Interesting topic.

    I wouldn't classify obesity as a disease.
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  14. #14
    Atomic Punk ziggysmalls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raldo View Post
    Interesting topic.

    I wouldn't classify obesity as a disease.
    I think we can chalk this up to living in the "Participation Award" era,

    Oh you have some mental issue that causes you to over indulge in something? Well we got something for you. It's called a "disease."

  15. #15
    Forum Frontman It's Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziggysmalls View Post
    I think we can chalk this up to living in the "Participation Award" era,

    Oh you have some mental issue that causes you to over indulge in something? Well we got something for you. It's called a "disease."
    I don't think this has anything to do with the Partcipation Award era at all actually. This has do with money. Nothing more than that.

 

 

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