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Is Obesity a Disease?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

KQED Forum is one of my top favorite radio shows - airs at 9am Pacific Time every week day on KQED.

 

Yesterday's podcast was about the recent decision of the American Medical Association to classify obesity as a disease: "Their decision has drawn controversy: Supporters say the label could spur health insurers and the government to fund anti-obesity services. But opponents say obesity is a risk factor, and calling it a "disease" further stigmatizes overweight people."

 

You can listen to the whole 1-hour long podcast here: 

 

http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201306250900 

 

The conversation was very heated, with many callers and great comments. I was very surprised that few people mentioned the root problem, which is what I would call "the elephant in the room," namely that we have a toxic food system, filled with sugar and heavily processed foods. My own takeaway from the podcast: "Junk food is unacceptable. We should treat junk food just like smoking."

 

Guests on the show:

  • Dr. Kristine Madsen, pediatrician at UCSF and assistant professor at UC Berkeley School of Public Health
  • Elissa Epel, professor at UCSF Department of Psychiatry and director of the UCSF Center for Obesity Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST)
  • Virgie Tovar, editor of "Hot and Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion"

 

I am curious what the Mothering community thinks about this law and what your comments and takeaways after listening to this podcast are. 

post #2 of 9

Here's a link to the article NPR did on the AMA decision:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/06/19/193440570/ama-says-its-time-to-call-obesity-a-disease

 

As they note, "The AMA isn't vested with legally binding authority on what's a disease and what's not."

 

So this isn't a matter of a law being passed, but a recommendation from the AMA, which would guide how doctors diagnose & treat obesity.

 

Given that mainstream medical care is not really designed to be holistic in its approach to health and wellness, I'm not sure how much difference this is going to make, given that obesity is such a complex issue, with so many possible contributing factors.

post #3 of 9

Obesity is not a disease. It's just not. At all. 

 

I like your point though about the toxic food we have. Maybe if we took that off the shelves we'd have less of a problem. 

post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by lauranhc View Post

Obesity is not a disease. It's just not. At all. 

 

 

 

it fits the definition of what a disease is, if not, what is obesity, some thing all should strive for or want? I think not.

 

 

I thrilled this is finally being addressed as a disease so it can be treated for what it is.

post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

it fits the definition of what a disease is, if not, what is obesity, some thing all should strive for or want? I think not.

 

 

I thrilled this is finally being addressed as a disease so it can be treated for what it is.

 

Perhaps by definition you could classify it as a disease but to me a disease is something that happens to you. Obesity is a combination of poor lifestyle choices. Yes maybe 1 in 500 cases of obesity are genetics related or hormone problems etc. but the majority of them boil down to lifestyle choices. To me classifying it as a disease means that obesity is something that just happened to you regardless of how unhealthy you are or whatever unhealthy decisions you have made. It seems to me like people will use this classification as an excuse for their obesity instead of putting in the necessary work to get healthier. 

 

Since you mentioned treatment in your post I'm curious as to what you would suggest as a treatment for obesity? 

post #6 of 9

It depends. Sometime it is really an illbess caused by genes and or other comorbidities like PCO or thyroid difsunctions. Other times it is personal choice.

post #7 of 9

I agree. Although I highly doubt that 1/3 of Americans (the current obesity rate) have bad genes or thyroid dysfunctions. I definitely think there are exceptions where no matter what a person does they will still struggle but I think the majority of it comes down to lifestyle choices. 

post #8 of 9
The average diet or the average highly processed "health food" diet keeps some people skinny, some people average, and some people obese. It's just a matter of how your metabolism reacts to it. Hard to see it's to blame if for over half the people have less visible reactions to it. It is a combo of genetics and food. My husband is recovering from it now. I can't stand the "let's ban junk food" idea of some like NY though, people should have choices if it only harms themselves and only slowly. But let's do stop pushing it through subsidies, school food, and FDA recommendations (such as 6-11 servings of grains and only half of them whole so you get the add in vitamins in the white bread, and pack in that low fat dairy, sweeten it to get the kids drinking more - bleh).
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieCatheryn View Post

The average diet or the average highly processed "health food" diet keeps some people skinny, some people average, and some people obese. It's just a matter of how your metabolism reacts to it. Hard to see it's to blame if for over half the people have less visible reactions to it. It is a combo of genetics and food. My husband is recovering from it now. I can't stand the "let's ban junk food" idea of some like NY though, people should have choices if it only harms themselves and only slowly. But let's do stop pushing it through subsidies, school food, and FDA recommendations (such as 6-11 servings of grains and only half of them whole so you get the add in vitamins in the white bread, and pack in that low fat dairy, sweeten it to get the kids drinking more - bleh).

I completely agree with the subsidies and school requirements etc. If you force people to choose certain foods it's just a broken model in my opinion. And love the point you made about the low fat dairy and then sweetening it etc etc. Just like all the "diet foods" only 100 calories but packed with artificial chemicals. Best to eat fruits ,vegetables and real food. Great points! 

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