Obesity: Is It A Disease? Essay

1398 words - 6 pages

What is a disease? At first we think it’s an easy question as we think we have had a grasp on the concept since we were children. Pictures of people being sick in a hospital or constantly visiting doctors become prominent in our head. However, upon further review, it’s actually a really hard question. The real question is: “How do we distinguish properly between real diseases, and human behaviors or characteristics that we just happen to find disturbing” (Leach). In our society there is an ongoing battle about what should be considered a disease and what should not be. Therefore I’m going to take a stand. Obesity is not a disease because it does not exhibit common symptoms, it is normal, and it does not show a lack of control.
What is the first criteria for something to be considered a disease? There has to be some common symptoms and a clear diagnostic that a person could be suffering from this disease. They should be noticeable to the point that the person could practically diagnose themselves if they had not already been diagnosed by the doctor. My grandmother suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and she had all the common symptoms: resting tremors, slow movement, stiffness in limbs, postural instability, and freezing (Primary). Even when she would take her medication, some of these symptoms were very noticeable and people wouldn’t even have a second thought about what disease she was suffering from. They automatically knew that my grandmother had Parkinson’s disease. Obesity’s only true symptom is being fat, which does not always mean a person is diagnosed with obesity. The diagnosis of obesity is more difficult than it was for my grandmother’s doctor. A doctor cannot simply look at a person’s BMI (Body Mass Index - the common way of diagnosing a person as obese) and diagnose them with obesity because many times people with a BMI in the obese range, don’t exhibit signs of obesity. A physician must look at each patient separate from the others because there is not a distinct diagnostic for obesity (Kabat). A disease should have clear symptoms and diagnosis because it’s backed by medical science and can therefore be a disease. If someone is questioning what is wrong with their body, they should be able to type there symptoms into WebMD and come back with a conclusive answer. Therefore, a disease must have common symptoms and a clear way to diagnose the disease.
Another criteria for a disease, is not being seen a normal. When people think of a disease they think of this rare medical complication that they don’t see everyday. It is not normal and therefore people don’t really worry about the possibility that they could suffer form it. For example, my mother has breast cancer. Most people I run across are unable to relate to that statement because neither of their parents have cancer. This is similar to when my mother tells people she has cancer and most people cannot relate to what she is going through. I classify cancer in the category of...

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