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AMA declares obesity a disease

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – The American Medical Association now classifies obesity as a disease. The declaration means obesity will be recognized as a medical condition that requires treatment and prevention.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – The American Medical Association now classifies obesity as a disease. The declaration means obesity will be recognized as a medical condition that requires treatment and prevention.

Obesity in the U.S. has reached a new high. Currently a third of adults and 1 in 5 children are obese.

Kary Woodruff, a sport dietician at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital said, “I’ve seen some projections that say by 2020 up to 70% of the population could be obese. That’s huge.”

So huge, the Centers for Disease Control says the country’s obese population is 50% greater than it was just in 1997.

“A lot of people believe that obesity is a disease of laziness or a disease of choice, but I think we have to keep in mind it’s multifaceted,” said Woodruff.

Genetics, lifestyle, socioeconomic status and the predominance of fast food all play a role. Woodruff believes many of those lifestyle factors could be shifted in a positive direction if health insurance companies paid doctors for the time consuming task of discussing obesity’s health risks with their patients.

“With this new classification of obesity being a medical diagnosis it could increase the prevalence of insurance companies paying for services for overweight and obesity,” said Woodruff.

In the short term Woodruff expects increased costs, but says in the long run it will pay off; saving lives and saving dollars. People we spoke with on the street agree.

Andrew MacArthur said, “Changing the classification of obesity to a disease makes it easier for health care providers and professionals to bill or to bundle services and care that they provide.”

“I think it would reduce health care costs dramatically,” said Lee Archer. “because obesity leads to a lot of problems like diabetes, heart disease and the list goes on.”
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