The largest U.S. doctors' group said obesity is a disease. The decision, announced this week by the American Medical Association at its annual meeting, could lead to increased funding for obesity research and help people obtain insurance coverage for treatment for obesity.
The AMA said obesity requires a range of medical interventions for treatment and prevention. Most insurance companies do not cover visits to a nutritionist or doctor to treat obesity.
The U.S. obesity rate increased nearly 50 percent between 1997 and 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also said nearly 30 percent of American adults are obese and that childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 30 years.
The World Health Organization estimates that globally, at least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.
Dr. Patrice Harris from the AMA said, “Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans.”
Obesity is linked to cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. It also increases the risk for cancer.