Obesity is no longer a disorder, it’s a disease.
This week, the American Medical Association voted to reclassify obesity—a $150 billion annual health care headache—from a chronic health condition to a disease. According to the CDC, 35 percent of adult Americans are obese. To be considered obese, you must have a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher. A healthy BMI is is between 18 and 25, and the CDC has a handy BMI calculator on their website.
Dr. Richard Besser, Chief Health and Medical Editor for ABC News, couldn’t care less about the formalities. “I think it matters little whether we call obesity a disease, a condition, or a disorder,” he told us. “It matters less what we call it than what we do to prevent it.”
The question is, how will medical treatment change in response to this new decision? Labeling obesity a disease quickly left those in the medical establishment with uncertainty about the future of obesity treatment. There are a slew of surgical procedures that combat obesity, none of which cure it completely. The onus is on the patient to follow through with the treatment and reach a healthy weight. Obesity is a unique disease because nutritional education, fitness awareness, and simple willpower are the most effective remedies. “We need to get physical activity back into everyone’s lives, starting with our kids,” said Dr. Besser.