Thursday, June 20, 2013

Is Obesity Really A Disease?

This week the American Medical Association officially declared obesity a disease or a medical condition. 
Before I get into my opinion I believe that it is important to first define what a disease is.

disordered or incorrectly functioning organpart, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment.

While obesity can be the root cause of some diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. Obesity in and of itself is not a disease by definition.

 The AMA isn't vested with legally binding authority on what is a disease and what is not a disease. In fact, when it comes to the labeling of diseases, there is an International Classification For Diseases which already has a range of categories covering obesity  "due to excess calories" to obesity due to a side effect of prescription drugs.

So what's the big deal with the AMA? The group still has considerable influence, and the vote could give more clout to efforts to have obesity interventions paid for by insurers and to get the public focused on the problem.

"We felt it's time to take a stance and say we're going to identify this as a disease," Dr. Douglas Martin, chairman of the AMA public health committee that referred the resolution for vote, told MedPage Today. "We think that's going to send a message not only to the public but to the physician community that we really need to make it a priority and put it in our cross hairs."

I do not believe that being over weight or obese is a disease. We live in a world were there is a need to classify, quantify, and complicate some things. Especially in reference to pacifying the masses. By classifying obesity as a disease there is no implication culpability, and every indication of helplessness. In essence this classification takes the responsibility out of the hands of the individual and places the blame squarely of the shoulders of an uncontrollable force, turning responsible adults into helpless victims. Being overweight is not an airborne bug, or something that can be passed on by contact. 
While nobody chooses to be obese, not doing anything about it is definitely a choice.

I know what it's like to battle obesity. At the height of my battle I weighed in at a whopping 325lbs. I had back pain, leg pain, feet pain, and severe fatigue. It was then that I decided that enough was enough, and I did whatever I had to do to lose 80 pounds. Some days it's still a struggle but I persist.

I didn't get fat because of depression, or because I was mistreated as a child. It is not my parents fault, and my eating was not a sign of some deep seeded issue. I just loved to eat, and I did it way too much for far to long. It's just that simple. My first step was to take responsibility for my condition, my second step was to find a solution, not escape accountability by calling my obesity a disease. Labeling it as such does not encourage self examination. This diagnosis does little more than promote dependency.


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