American Medical Association: ‘Obesity Is a Disease’

The American Medical Association (AMA) made headlines this week when a delegation of members declared obesity as a bona fide disease.  For one in three Americans, this classification means they may eventually qualify for medical or surgical treatments for their obesity.

Until the decision by the AMA, many in the healthcare industry, including health insurance carriers, denied these therapies.  Many believed that obesity was simply the result of overeating and lack of exercise.

With this ruling, though, proponents believe this is the first step to reducing the prevalence of obesity and co-existing health problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

“The AMA’s recognition of obesity as a disease will help in the management of type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” said Anthony Gonzalez, M.D., a Baptist Health Medical Group surgeon and medical director of South Miami Hospital’s Weight-loss Surgery Program.  “Now that the medical and surgical therapies for obesity, along with prescribed lifestyle changes, will be accepted by the medical community, the continued growth of obesity among Americans will be slowed and possibly reversed.”

Dr. Gonzalez says this ruling, while not immediately a game-changer in the fight against obesity, will allow doctors to treat the primary problem – obesity – instead of having to focus on the diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and other health issues related to being obese.  He says the next step to removing barriers to treating obesity lies with lawmakers and insurance carriers, which must decide which criteria will be used to determine obesity and what therapies will be approved for treatment.

“We’re excited about this first step toward helping the patients we see everyday struggling with poor health, as a result of their obesity, but this is more of a conversation starter at this point than a change that will immediately affect how we practice medicine,” Dr. Gonzalez said.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

Language Preference / Preferencia de idioma

I want to see the site in English

Continue In English

Quiero ver el sitio en Español

Continuar en español