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American Medical Association: Obesity As A Dicease

2086 words - 8 pages

Is it true that over a third of Americans are diseased? The American Medical Association, AMA, has officially recognized obesity as a disease. Obesity is defined as “a condition that is characterized by excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body and that in an adult is typically indicated by a body mass index of thirty or greater” (“Is Obesity a Disease”). The debate over whether it is a disease still rises up today as obesity rates and the costs of treating obesity-related conditions increase in the United States. Many supporters stress that obesity is in fact a disease because they believe it is a result of genetics and biological factors. Opponents, on the other hand, argue that obesity is not a disease because it is a result of a person’s chosen lifestyle and eating habits. They also argue that it has the ability to put people at risk for actual diseases, including Type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure. Obesity should not be labeled as a disease. Treating obesity as a disease instead of blaming poor dietary decisions unfairly harms healthy Americans. Obesity is something that can lead to diseases but is not one itself. Obesity should be classified as more of a risk factor rather than a disease because it stems from the individual choices a person makes.
Obesity should not be categorized as a disease since it is a starting point for one. David L. Katz, MD, has never liked the idea of characterizing obesity as a disease. He believes diseases occur when the body is malfunctioning. Turning surplus calories into a fat reserve is not a malfunction; it is normal physiology (Rossi). What Katz is saying is very reasonable. Obesity does not necessarily impair normal body functions because many people who have a body mass index in the obesity range are perfectly able to live normal lives. Obesity can actually be a normal part of life because any healthy person can become obese by eating, which is a normal thing to do. It is just a matter of what a person eats and what their exercise routines are determines self control. What exactly constitutes a disease though? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a disease is a “pathological condition resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms” (Hawley). This definition implies that people bear no responsibility for being overweight, as though is occurs randomly. Obesity is not something that happens randomly. It is a matter of self control and choosing to live a sedentary lifestyle in which involves making bad dietary decisions and/or not having enough exercise. Obesity may lead to certain diseases, but is not one itself. Geoffrey Kabat, an epidemiologist, thinks labeling obesity as a disease is a big mistake. He said, “We do need medicine to treat obesity, but more often than not, it is lifestyle medicine. Lifestyle is the best medicine we’ve got – but it is cultural medicine, not...

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