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Obesity: A Disease

The American Medical Association has officially recognized obesity as a disease. What practical affect will this action have?It may still be to early to say, but recognizing obesity as a disease may change the way the medical community looks at this complex issue that affects one in three Americans. Obesity has long been linked to Type II Diabetes and Heart Disease. Some say that the statement by the American Medical Association is merely a matter of semantics because there is not a universally agreed upon definition as to what even constitutes a disease. Further, the American Medical Association decision has absolutely no legal authority. Some doctors have opined that the AMA's decision will cause physicians to take obesity more seriously and counsel their patients about it and further, that drug companies marketing products will be able to go to physicians and point out that the AMA's recognition of obesity as a disease should cause those prescribing doctors to consider there products. 

Recently two new obesity drugs, Osymia from Vivus and Belviq from Arena Pharmaceuticals have entered the market place.The first drug, Osymia has not sold well including poor reimbursement and a concern about birth defects being attributed to the drug, and Belviq, went on sale only recently, so it is to early to say how it will fair.The obesity society recognized and classified obesity as a disease in 2008.This new classification can affect Americans pocket books because the Internal Revenue Service has said that obesity treatments can qualify for tax deductions and in 2004, Medicare removed language from its coverage manual, saying that obesity was not a disease. Still Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit, includes weight loss drugs among those it will not pay for, along with drugs for hair growth and erectile dysfunction.The decision from the American Medical Association has been criticized because the body mass index that many use to measure obesity may be very high and above the properly recognized healthy levels in the individuals who are obese but are perfectly healthy, while others below it can have dangerous levels of body fat and metabolic problems associated with obesity, though their BMI is within normal ranges. Therefore, giving the limitations of BMI to diagnose obesity in clinical practice, it becomes muddy and unclear that recognizing obesity as a disease as opposed to a single "condition" or "disorder" will result in improved health outcomes.Even though some suggest that obesity should not be considered a disease but rather a consequence of a life style of inactivity and over eating, have had there argument assailed by those who say that it is similar to suggesting that lung cancer is not a disease because it is brought on about by an individual who chose to smoke cigarettes. The legal ramifications of the AMA's declaration are yet to be known.

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Davis & Davis Attorneys at Law

Davis & Davis Attorneys At Law