Science & Technology

American Medical Association: Obesity Is Not a Disease

Treating it as one undermines prevention efforts


CHICAGO—Obesity is hard to define and diagnose, and partly because of that is not a disease, an American Medical Association (AMA) council said in a report issued here Monday.

The report from the AMA's Council on Science and Public Health, released at the organization's annual meeting, angered many medical specialties who do consider obesity a disease.

The report panned body mass index as a proxy for obesity, saying it's limited as a stand-alone. Furthermore, calling obesity a disease may undermine prevention efforts and will do little to impact its treatment, the report said.

"Without a single, clear, authoritative, and widely accepted definition of disease, it is difficult to determine conclusively whether or not obesity is a medical disease state," the council told the AMA's policy-making House of Delegates. "Similarly, a sensitive and clinically practical diagnostic indicator of obesity remains elusive."