American Medical Association: Call Obesity a Disease

Does that make a cheeseburger a "controlled substance"?


"Buffets" will be reclassified as "Transmission Vectors"
Credit: morrissey / Foter.com / CC BY

Yesterday I noted a recommendation by a council within the American Medical Association against calling obesity a disease, arguing that doing so undermines prevention efforts and doesn't really impact treatment.

The American Medical Association voted and never mind: They're calling it a disease. Via MedPage Today:

The vote—approved by roughly 60% of the AMA's full House—goes against the recommendation of its Council on Science and Public Health, which issued a report earlier this week saying that calling obesity a disease would be problematic.

The resolution was backed by delegates from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and the American Society of Bariatric Physicians.

"We felt it's time to take a stance and say we're going to identify this as a disease," AMA committee on public health member Douglas Martin, MD, told MedPage Today. "We think that's going to send a message not only to the public but to the physician community that we really need to make it a priority and put it in our crosshairs."

It's not obesity in the crosshairs so much as insurance providers, as Forbes noted:

On Sunday, several doctors who testified at an AMA panel on public health issues said doctors needed to be compensated for treating obesity and a disease classification would help in that regard.

Dr. Virginia Hall, an obstetrician from Hershey, Pa., said the AMA should endorse declaring obesity as a disease so "insurers can stop ducking their responsibility" in paying for treatment of the obese.