The newest disease? Obesity.

Did you hear?  The American Medical Association (AMA) proclaimed obesity  a disease, This new category moves obesity as something viewed as just “someone’s problem” simply cured by “just stop eating” into the same realm as cancer or heart disease.  A BMI over 30 (adults) and >95%ile BMI for age (for children over age 2) really is a problem.  In the United States, 1 in 3 adults are obese; 17% of our children are obese.  What is happening?

When I think of the obesity epidemic, I remember the Pixar movie, Wall-E. When WALL-E reaches the spaceship, all the people that fled Earth are morbidly obese.  They move via electronic chairs, eat while lying down, and mostly watch TV.  Do any of these lifestyle choices sound familiar in your house?

With these statistics, I am sure you know of an obese adult and even a child.  How does one become obese?  Is it a choice? Some of us have even judged and others of us have been judged.  Is it in the person’s genes?  Can we blame the parents?  Is it because of the lifestyle people choose to live?  Are any of these things interconnected? In April, I blogged about sugar sweetened beverages or salt in the convenience meals that might contribute to obesity.  Maybe the problem is how our kids eat at school?

What’s next? Obesity contributes significantly to healthcare costs by increasing one’s risk for chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.  Today, a visit with a registered dietitian may be covered by some health insurances only if a co-morbidity (i.e.: Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol) already exists.  Doesn’t it make sense to be proactive and visit a registered dietitian for healthy eating before obesity occurs?  Excess eating can be triggered by emotions. Would including coverage for counseling be wise in helping the individual understand why we eat? Will the quick fix to this disease resort to obesity medications without trialing healthy eating AND boosting our physical activity? Will the focus be on more education programs on healthy eating and exercise?

The jury is still out and many questions continue to deserve debate.  What I do know – this new proclamation signals another step recognizing we DO have a problem! Let’s hope we continue to move in the right direction.

Watch my interview with Dan Edwards on 2 News Today on Dayton CW about this topic!

Obesity Named A Disease

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