The American Medical Association last week declared obesity a disease. That's a step, doctors say, that will help medical professionals better treat a condition that affects 78 million adults and 12 million children. Yahoo News invited Americans who qualify as obese -- those with a BMI above 30 -- to share their story and perspective on the news. Here's one.
FIRST PERSON | According to the American Medical Association, I now have a medically defined disease: obesity.
I am a relatively healthy woman in her early 40s; however, I know have a disease solely based on my body mass index. According to the NIH's online calculator, at a height of 5 feet and 9 inches and a weight of 230 pounds, my BMI is 34, which is classified as obese according to the scale.
From South Carolina, I grew up around Southern fried foods, but I never had a weight issue until my mid-30s when I underwent a radical hysterectomy for polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Up to that point, my weight fluctuated according to my eating and exercise patterns, but I could always trim the extra weight by watching my diet, drinking more water and exercising more. However, as soon as I had surgery and began hormone replacement therapy, I began gaining weight. I tried more exercise, cutting calories and even over-the-counter weight loss treatments, but nothing stopped the number on the scale from increasing. I do not feel obese, and I think I carry my weight well due to my height; however, I still work hard to lose the extra pounds because I agree with my doctor that the extra weight can lead to other serious health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
On one hand, I completely agree with the AMA that obesity is a serious problem and for some people it should be regarded as a disease. In those instances, even with the proper diet and a regimented exercise program, losing weight is either impossible or extremely difficult. And due to society's focus on body image, the stigma I face because of my weight hurts and is difficult to deal with.
But I also understand there are many who choose to be overweight and could control it if only they made better lifestyle choices. Therefore, adding obesity to the list of medically recognized diseases does give those of us who suffer from being overweight some degree of hope that the medical community will help find answers to why some people gain weight that they cannot seem to lose through typical weight loss treatments.
However, people who chose an unhealthy lifestyle may see this as a way of justifying their choices because they have a "disease." Classifying obesity as a disease will do nothing to help them and can only benefit the drug companies who no doubt will love the fact that obesity is a disease and insurance companies will now be pressured to cover expensive weight loss medications. It does strike me that two new obesity drugs have been place on the market with the last year that will surely benefit from the AMA's finding that obesity is a disease.
Obesity is like any other disease -- some suffer without ever knowing the cause while some can pinpoint a direct cause for the condition.
- Disease & Medical Conditions
- Diet & Weight Loss
- American Medical Association
- heart disease