Obesity Officially Classified As A Disease

CHICAGO (CBS) — The nation’s largest organization of doctors now considers obesity a disease.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, at a meeting in Chicago, the American Medical Association House of Delegates has voted to declare obesity a medical illness.

Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center, said it’s high time obesity be recognized as a disease, calling the evidence incontrovertible.

“The evidence is clear that obesity is a disease,” he said.

The AMA’s move means 78 million American adults and 12 million children who are considered obese now are classified as having a medical condition that requires treatment. It also puts more pressure on insurance companies to cover the costs of weight loss and weight control treatment.

Dr. Kelly Brownell, a psychologist at Yale University, saw the move as a major step forward in tackling the problem.

“What’s needed is the country to take it more seriously from a policy point of view, and to try to correct the conditions that are making the problem occur,” he said.

Brownell said obesity is a treatable disease.

“We have a gradation of treatments. We start with diet and exercise. We move up to medical therapies, if that’s not successful, and ultimately surgery,” he said.

Therapies and procedures such as lap-band or gastric bypass surgeries might now be included in insurance coverage, based on the AMA’s decision.

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