AMA Decides to Recognize Obesity as a Disease

The recent American Medical Association decision to classify obesity as a disease state may have some wide ranging consequences.

Included among the organizations at the annual meeting of the AMA House of Delegates  to come out  in favor of the long overdue recognition were the Endocrine Society, the American College of Cardiology and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

They all agreed the scientific evidence is overwhelming that obesity, like other diseases, has multifactorial causes which can be treated with a variety of options, including medications, counseling and surgery.

It has been well established that obesity increases one’s risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes,colon cancer, stroke, breast cancer and other diseases.

One probable consequence is that doctors will become more proactive in the use of medications, counseling and surgery in the battle to conquer this disease – which will likely exert pressure on insurance companies to provide better reimbursement for medications and other measures to treat obesity.

At present, obesity drugs like Belviq and Qsymia are not covered by all insurance companies, which is more apt to change now.

Slight Obesity May Confer Lower Mortality

An interesting, and somewhat surprising, finding was uncovered by the National Center for Health Statistics in a recent comprehensive review of the medical literature. After reviewing over 95 medical studies and close to 3 million subjects, the researchers concluded that people medically classified as overweight and low-grade obesity have significantly lower mortality risk than people in the normal weight category! Excess mortality occurs only at the highest levels of obesity, i.e., grade 2 and higher.

These findings are somewhat puzzling, although they are consistent with several previous studies.

A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18.5 to just below 25 is considered normal weight – e.g., an individual 5′ 8” and 160 lbs. is considered normal weight.People with a BMI of 25 to just below 30 (e.g., 5′ 8” and 190 lbs.) are classified as overweight, while those with a BMI of 30 to just below 35 (e.g., 5′ 8” and 200 lbs.) are labeled grade 1 (or low-grade) obesity. A BMI of 35 to just below 40 is grade 2 obesity.

We don’t know why overweight and slight obesity may be protective.We can only speculate at this point. Among the possible explanations: slightly increased amounts of body fat may provide beneficial and protective metabolic effects.

So, carrying a little extra weight may have some benefits.