The American Medical Association (AMA) has officially endorsed recognizing obesity as a disease. It is hoped that this will encourage better reimbursement for the treatment of overweight Americans, thereby creating better health outcomes. It should also boost the sales and development of prescription diet drugs. Supporters of the classification believe that this would result not only in more investments (both government and private), and possibly health insurance coverage for a diagnosis of someone as obese, once there is a payment mechanism for the evaluation and management of obesity.
The AMA's science and public health council presented the pros and cons of classifying obesity as a disease. In favor of the classification, it has been reported that obesity is similar to other diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and lung cancer since these diseases also result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Additionally, doctors need a way to be compensated for treating obesity and insurers would pay for treatment.
Opponents of the classification state that obesity is the result of personal choices of overheating or living a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, obesity cannot be classified as an illness. The classification may also lead to an increase in healthcare costs, while not necessarily improving outcomes for patients. Additionally, both insurers and employers believe that the current structure for the reimbursement for obesity is adequate and new benefits have been added to address the epidemic.
Most understand that obesity is a risk factor for diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stork, and heart attack. The recognition of obesity as a disease may change the way the medical community tackles obesity and possibly prevent the onset of these diseases. It is important to set up programs and supports to address obesity so as to prevent any of the diseases that could result.
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