Is obesity a disease?
|June 27, 2013||Posted by The Fit Scoop under News and Research|
The American Medial Association recently classified obesity as a disease.
Obesity is defined as having an excess amount of body fat and is diagnosed when an individual has a BMI greater than or equal to 30. For someone 5’4″ this corresponds to a weight of 174 lbs or more, and for someone 5’9″ this corresponds to a weight equal to or greater than 203 lbs. The CDC estimates one-third of adults and 17% of children are obese, and that obesity-related medical costs amount to nearly $150 billion per year.
In my opinion obesity isn’t a disease, but rather it’s a potential precursor to disease. Obesity can be a precursor to diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular disease to name a few. It is also associated with other problematic health conditions such as hypertension, sleep apnea, depression, and infertility. The reason I don’t view obesity as a disease is because not everyone who has a BMI over 30 is ill and has unhealthy amounts of body fat. Extremely muscular people tend to have higher BMIs, with many professional athletes being classified as obese even though they have healthy levels of body fat. Conversely individuals that fall within the normal BMI range can still have unhealthy levels of body fat. Granted the number of obese individuals that have healthy levels of body fat are likely low, this just highlights the fact that it is body fat rather than weight that is the health concern in obese individuals. I think the AMA would have made more of an impact if they revised the obesity classification to be based on body fat percentage rather than by classifying it as a disease.
What do you think? Is it a good idea to call obesity a disease? Is there a better way to define obesity?