Wow! It took them long enough, but the American Medical Association has finally, with great fanfare, declared in a policy statement, that obesity is a disease.
What took them so long? Other organizations including Medicare have tacitly accepted obesity as a disease, for some years. Even the Internal Revenue service has stated that obesity treatments can qualify for tax deductions.
This new AMA declaration is a good thing because so many other diseases including heart disease, congestive heart, Diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke, hypertension, osteoarthritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), some cancers, depression and even erectile dysfunction are related to obesity.
There are both benefits and liabilities to this new announcement however. The benefits are that insurance companies will pay more attention to the problem. In addition drug companies and surgery companies will pay more attention to this diagnosis. I am hopeful that integrative medicine clinics will be reimbursed for the diet and lifestyle changes that they help bring about that also reduces obesity.
However the “medicalizing” of obesity which affects one third of the American public, could also lead to greater medical costs. If Medicare starts covering treatments for obesity, what will that do to the national bill for bariatric surgeries which cost up to $40,000? People will demand the surgery as it will be covered by their insurance.
What effect would it have on the government “allowing” junk food for obese people?
All these and many many more questions are brought up by this new annoucement . Only time will bring us the answers.
However as all my patients and readers know my integrative medicine colleagues and I feel that diet and lifestyle changes, are the only real way to manage this epidemic.
What are your thoughts! Let me know by email or in person.
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