American Medical Association classifies obesity as a disease

Topic of the Day

American Medical Association classifies obesity as a disease

Posted:

(CBS News) The American Medical Association has officially recognized obesity as a disease, a decision that could change the way physicians and insurance companies deal with the condition.  

The move, announced on Tuesday, will open up a range of medical interventions for the prevention and treatment of obesity and changes the status of obesity from "a major public health problem" to a disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 36 percent of American adults are obese.

Dr. Lou Aronne, an obesity expert at New York Presbyterian Hospital, said medical researchers have long recognized obesity as a disease but said the AMA's recognition and re-classification will "have a tremendous impact on legislation in Washington [and] with insurance companies."

As it stands, insurance policies "generally exclude obesity treatment," Aronne said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning," which limits the treatment of obesity-related conditions, including "diabetes, high blood pressure, even cancers [that] are caused by obesity."

While prevention is "key," he said, "if that doesn't work, we've got to implement treatment programs, and we're not doing that very well."

U.S. obesity rates: Where does your state stack up?  

Aronne explained that for clinically obese patients, treatment is not as simple as eating less and exercising more. "Once obesity is established, there are physical mechanisms that take hold that make it very difficult for people to lose weight," he said.

"As people gain weight, damage occurs to the signalling pathways between the fat cells, the stomach, the intestine and the brain," Aronne said.

"The brain can't tell how much food is coming in and how much fat is stored." Medical therapies and procedures like the lap-band or gastric bypass surgeries are courses of treatment that may now be included in insurance coverage, based on the AMA's decision.

"Anyone who is obese will tell you they want to lose weight. This is not a choice," Aronne said. "If people had the kind of medical options that are available now [covered by insurance], they would take them." © 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • Email Alert Sign Up

    Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.

    * denotes required fields


    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Go to KSWT-TV's Facebook page
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Yuma to Hold Back to School Rodeo Saturday

    Yuma to Hold Back to School Rodeo Saturday

    Yuma, AZ - The City of Yuma invites the community the Inaugural Back To School Rodeo, Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Civic Center, 1440 W. Desert Hills Drive The Back to School Rodeo is aMore >>
    The City of Yuma invites the community the Inaugural Back To School Rodeo, Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Civic Center, 1440 W. Desert Hills Drive. The Back to School Rodeo is a free event that will bring more than 50 community organizations under one roof to provide a one-stop destination for area children's educational needs. Organizers say it is designed for grades K-8. More >>
  • Former Yuma Strip Club owner murdered in botched Denver robbery

    Former Yuma Strip Club owner murdered in botched Denver robbery

    YUMA, AZ- One of the five victims murdered in a Denver bar fire is from the Desert Southwest. Police are treating it as arson-murder. "It appears that the motive of this crime was robbery, that theyMore >>
    One of the five victims murdered in a Denver bar fire is from the Desert Southwest. Tereasa Beesley was 45 years old.More >>
  • National

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Obama warns of delay in social sec. checks and veteran's benefits

    Web Producer: Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits willMore >>
    Declaring "we are not a deadbeat nation," President Obama warned on Monday that Social Security checks and veterans' benefits will be delayed if congressional Republicans fail to increase the government's borrowing authority in a looming showdown over the nation's debt and spending.More >>
  • Coming soon...Wal-Mart

    Coming soon...Wal-Mart

    On Wednesday the Yuma City Council voted to change the zoning designation on the proposed land acquired by Wal-Mart. The property located near the intersection of Avenue B and 8th Street was the home of a mobile home park as zones for residential use; the new designation changes that to mixed which will allow the new store to move in to the property. The new store will be the fifth Wal-Mart for Yuma County.More >>
    On Wednesday the Yuma City Council voted to change the zoning designation on the proposed land acquired by Wal-Mart. The property located near the intersection of Avenue B and 8th Street was the home of a mobile home park as zones for residential use; the new designation changes that to mixed which will allow the new store to move in to the property. The new store will be the fifth Wal-Mart for Yuma County.More >>
  • Mercury rising

    Mercury rising

    Living in the southwest, warm temps are just part of life; but, lately as the mercury begins to rise it has proven to be too much for some. Emergency crews have been called out fordehydrations calls and area utilities have recorded larger than normal power uses. Some companies have opened their doors offering passer by’s a cool zone and even the Salvation Army has scoured the city looking for people in aide to help them get hydrated and get some shelter from the sun.More >>
    Living in the southwest, warm temps are just part of life; but, lately as the mercury begins to rise it has proven to be too much for some. Emergency crews have been called out fordehydrations calls and area utilities have recorded larger than normal power uses. Some companies have opened their doors offering passer by’s a cool zone and even the Salvation Army has scoured the city looking for people in aide to help them get hydrated and get some shelter from the sun.More >>
  • Crime Watch

    Police investigating dead body found in parked car

    Police investigating dead body found in parked car

    YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - Yuma police say a dead woman was found in a car parked at Food City on 8th Street on Tuesday night, at around 6:20 p.m. Police are investigating her cause of death andMore >>
    Yuma police are investigating the death of a woman who was found in a parked car Tuesday night.More >>
  • Northern California wildfire destroys 5 homes

    Northern California wildfire destroys 5 homes

    A wildfire in Northern California has destroyed five homes and several other structures near vineyards in the Sierra Foothills.More >>
    A wildfire in Northern California has destroyed five homes and several other structures near vineyards in the Sierra Foothills.More >>
  • Pedestrian killed while crossing Phoenix street

    Pedestrian killed while crossing Phoenix street

    Police in Phoenix say a man has died after getting struck by a car while crossing the street.More >>
    Police in Phoenix say a man has died after getting struck by a car while crossing the street.More >>