Recently, the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease. At first glance that sounds like a good idea. As a disease, obesity now warrants more attention from doctors…and perhaps more reimbursement for services related to obesity from insurance companies. As a registered dietitian, it’s always baffled me why insurance companies do not reimburse us for dietary counseling for weight issues, until they become medical problems. To me, it never seemed right to pay thousands for surgery for weight issues…but turn down a few hundred dollars for someone who wants to get their weight down to a healthy range…thereby, preventing the need for surgery.
Though, in a recent article, Dr. David Katz, director of Yale Prevention Research Center, states he believes obesity should not be classified as a disease. He writes, “The notion that obesity is a disease will inevitably invite a reliance on pharmacotherapy and surgery to fix what is best addressed through improvements in the use of our feet and forks, and in our Farm Bill.”
Dr. Katz says that there’s no need to label obesity as a disease in order for it to be medically legitimate. Carbon monoxide poisoning is medically legitimate, but it is not a disease. Same with drowning – it, too, is not a disease. Both are the result of being in an unhealthy environment. Great analogies.
I concur. Let’s work on changing our environment with healthier foods and more opportunity for physical activity!