Is Obesity a Disease?

Whether or not obesity should be considered a disease is a matter of debate. In 2013, the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest group of physicians, voted to recognize obesity as a disease. The decision was controversial to say the least.

The decision was meant to improve access to weight loss treatment, reduce the stigma of obesity, and underscore the fact that obesity is not always a matter of self-control. Others argue that calling obesity a disease automatically categorizes a large portion of Americans as “sick,” when they may not be. Instead, critics say obesity should be considered a risk factor for many diseases, but not a disease in and of itself.

Experts on one side of the issue say obesity, like alcoholism, depression, and anxiety, is a disease. There are definite medical patterns: hormone imbalances, neurotransmitter deficiencies, and nutritional exhaustion that all contribute to obesity. Many patients that are obese have underlying medical issues that need to be addressed.

On the other hand, with more than one third of the American population presently classified as obese, it is clear that there are many causes for excessive fat accumulation like genetic issues, too little exercise/physical activity, too much food, inappropriate food selection, eating while watching television, etc. In many cases, obesity is the result of a specific lifestyle which can typically be reversed (at least in the short term) by adopting a different lifestyle.

Obesity increases the risk of developing a number of serious health conditions, including:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gallstones
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Infertility or irregular periods

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says people should aim to make long-term changes, such as eating healthy on a regular basis, and boosting daily physical activity. Even small amounts of weight loss — such as 5% to 10% of your total body weight – can have health benefits.

For some, obesity as a disease invalidates the importance of discipline, proper nutrition, and exercise and enables individuals with obesity to escape responsibility. For others, obesity as a disease is a bridge to additional research, coordination of effective treatment, and increased resources for weight loss.

Ultimately, obesity is a complex entity that can have many causes; some are endocrine (like thyroid malfunction or hyperfunctioning of the adrenal gland or Cushing’s syndrome), but often the condition is from a combination of inactivity and overeating. For others, there are genetic factors that produce a tendency to be overweight even with the consumption of what would be for most people an appropriate number of calories. Whether the causes are hormonal, genetic, or reside in the brain is often difficult to determine.

If you’re in the Las Vegas area and looking for treatment for obesity and the life-threatening conditions that often accompany it, schedule an appointment with VIP Surg. Our experts can help you find the right treatment for your unique situation.

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