Obesity: Disease or Not
Over time there have been many debates on the topic of obesity, and whether it is classified as a disease or not. It has been very difficult to actually pinpoint the main reason for obesity occurring in people and the justification for what exactly causes a person to become obese. Obesity is a condition that has been sweeping over the world for many of years. Percentages including not only adults but children too have been increasing like never before. Obesity is a disease that is connected to the improper nutrition that in a way the amount of fatty tissue in the body stored from food taken starts to completely become unhealthy. Doctors talk about obesity when the BMI (body Mass Index) is over 30 kilograms for every square meter. Obesity is most common when the total amount of food exceeds the total amount of exercises. Obesity is known as a diet-related chronic disease that requires many longtime medical treatments that help reduce the frequency of related diseases and death rate.
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Obesity does not leave any untouched organ in the person as it primarily affects the vessels in the body and therefore since all organs have vessels and they experience certain difficulties that depend on the amount of exceeding weight. As a result, most people that have obesity tend to suffer from either hypertension, high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure. People with obesity can also suffer from both types of diabetes. The dysfunction of the obesity-caused body organs may not be considered fatal at first, but altogether they create a strong base of the probability of a fatal outcome. The dysfunctions connected with the inability of obesity in patients are sometimes reproduce, plus there are all types of respiratory dysfunctions when the patients lungs do not manage with the tension of the body mass and the musculoskeletal depending on the given situation. Fatal illnesses that obese patients suffer from are sometimes faced with the following: cancer diseases, the gallbladder disease and others. It has shown in some results that because of this some obesity patients may die early from the different cardiovascular diseases.
For many years obesity has been a serious condition that has been generally discussed on whether it is a disease or not. Society has been facing obesity as a challenge as it has resulted in several diseases. Some people thought that if they classified obesity as a disease then their aim was to maximize both the researches and funding. This was to focus on obesity from a different medical and health approach. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute had based their argument on which obesity is a complicated multifactorial chronic disease that is developed from multiple collective influences from countless factors. If people are not fully and properly informed and educated on obesity, then many people are at a higher risk of developing the condition. Obesity is a multifactorial condition that can be resulted from the environment, genetics, family history, behavior, habits and etc.
There have been case studies from the OMIM (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man) databases and the PPI (Protein-Protein Interaction) network that have investigated the relationship between obesity and diseases. Both genes of obesity and the OMIM disease were gathered onto the network and the scores of their interactions were analyzed on the PPI gene pairs. The results of the experiments have concluded that diseases who are related to endocrine and nutrition are the top diseases related with obesity. Countless obesity-related disease associations were identified to confirm the relationship between obesity and the diseases. The results could help understand the mechanism of obesity and provide convenient insight of the prevention of the disease. This study also helps researchers emphasize the complicated characteristics on declaring obesity as a disease while also exposing a new course of research.
The World Obesity Federation had once argued in a position paper that other countries should recognize obesity as a disease. Their main reason being that obesity had fit the characteristic of a chronic, relapsing, progressive disease, and how it described the similarity on how diseases are caused by any agent that can or may adversely affect the host. There have been countries that agreed with what the World Obesity Federation was stating, like Portugal who had officially recognized obesity as a disease in 2004. As time went on many other organizations and countries started to recognize obesity as a disease including the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network in 2010, the American Medical Association in 2013, and the Canadian Medical Association in 2015. Although, there are still some people in Canada who still have to pay for obesity treatment because both the local and federal Canadian government do not officially recognize the standpoint on where the Canadian Medical Association is.
A common statement that many people assume about people who are obese is that it is a lifestyle choice that is caused by individual greed. Pushing the recognition of obesity that is sometimes caused by disease agents could help promote change to the way others perceive obesity and reverse the epidemic of obesity. Until obesity can be fully recognized as a chronic disease and not a lifestyle choice, it will unlikely decrease. People have been trying to get the government to help reduce obesity by influencing the build of the environment that could help promote physical activity as a population. There are also some institutions around the country that have been trying to push the government to invest in the reduction of obesogenic agents that would help decrease the so-called disease.
Scott Kahan, Director of the National Center of Weight and Wellness, also put in his opinion that many diseases are lifestyle related, but those who are classified as being obese are blamed and shamed unlike those who suffer from diabetes and heart disease. He states that obese people are not eating worse or moving less than those who are considered healthy and while normal people who carry some type of chronic disease, diabetes, or hypertension are being supported or cared for, even though lack of physical activity or an unhealthy diet were probably the cause of developing the disease in the first place, obese people are made a joke. With such prejudice that gets in the way when discussing the topic of obesity, it can prevent fully understanding and finding a way to actually treat the disease. Also with many health researchers and physicians supporting his statement expressing themselves that entertaining obesity as a personal failing is not only getting nowhere but as medically inaccurate.
Many organizations claimed that labeling obesity as a disease it is supposed to help doctors and medical researchers find a plan that will help manage the growing obesity problem throughout the world. The most common answer people have suggested to decrease the problem with obesity would be to eat less, but there are much more complicated factors that can make it hard for a person to change their behavior. Medical researchers have expressed that across the country there are many food and fast food industries that are intertwined with the United States broken government and also how Congress does not have this country’s best interest in its’ citizen’s health. Even with their declaration about Congress, organizations do give credit to the programs that have been introduced to help the problem, like the WIC ( women, infant, and children) program, that provide strict guidelines that only allow certain healthy foods from specific lists.
A member of the association’s board, Dr. Patrice Harris, had commented on how recognizing obesity as a disease could help change the way many medical communities tackle the complex issue that has affected roughly about one third of Americans in the United States. This change would fight against many obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It would also help improve fundings for all obesity drugs, counseling and surgery. Although, the Council of Science and Public Health had claimed that obesity should not be identified as a disease because the Body Mass Index (BMI) measurement is not considered to be completely accurate, given that it does not measure a person’s overall content of fat or muscle tissue. The council had continued to prove their argument by expressing the given limitations of BMI to diagnose obesity in a clinical practice and how it is unpredictable that recognizing obesity as a disease, rather than a disorder or condition, will result in improved health outcomes.
Even with the council’s claim that obesity was not to be classified as a disease, they still had to agree that obesity did fit some parts of the medical disease criteria, like the different impairing body function. Even with their shared agreement on the previous statement there are still those who will just not accept the consideration of obesity being categorized as a disease. Many people did not agree with this change in classification in claiming obesity a disease, which had been later stated that it would classify approximately 78 million adults and 12 million children of Americans in the United States as sick and would lead to more medical attention that could be expensive, instead of improving one’s lifestyle changes. The resolution that the council had came to was that obesity is not a disease but instead a consequence of an individual’s lifestyle built by overeating and inactivity. The council also tried to support their conclusion by comparing obesity being the same as lung cancer in which it was developed because of the person’s choice to smoke cigarettes.
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Those who have disagreed with obesity being a disease say that it is less a matter of a person’s weight rather than their body fat. Like a person with a high BMI may be very fit, and a person with a low BMI can be in a very unhealthy shape. They used examples like college or professional football players who qualify as being obese, but have a very low percentage of body fat. Also according to the BMI measurement, Dwayne Johnson is also classified as obese. To them a person with a small frame may have more body fat but a normal BMI and vice-versa. There are people who are not harmed by having extra weight on them and sometimes they actually benefit from it. Examples like these are reasons to why some medical researchers think twice before considering obesity a disease and labeling people who are obese diseased.
The council announced that the relationship between morality and being overweight is complicated and people are far from understanding the countless ways in which the weight and health of someone is connected. Additionally, if they were to incorrectly categorize the people who can control their way of life by simply increasing their physical activities or change their diet as being sick and in need of medical assistance it could lead to many drug treatments and unnecessary surgery that could result in many complications and side effects for the individual. By informing the individuals who are considered to be obese that they carry a disease could decrease their sense of control over their ability to make the changes that need to be made in order to get them back into a healthy behaviorism. Council had went along the lines on which it could be very self-defeating to someone who is told that they have a disease that is out of their control. They believe that there is little evidence in which identifying obesity as a disease will cause it to become achievable in reducing the problem.
The individuals who side with the council have stated that political and economic changes should be made in order to reduce the obesity problem and stop performing unnecessary surgeries for those who are not able to pay for it. Increasing the availability of good quality foods that are affordable for everyone and safe neighborhoods that provide all types of physical opportunities for people of all ages would be more effective than having people seek medical attention for being obese. The workplace could also help provide encouragement of the health and fitness of their employees which would make it easier for them to choose a more healthy decision. With easy and reasonable solutions like the ones mentioned before, council believes that it does not take the recognition of obesity as being a disease to change the way it could prevent the issue. It does not only spare the price of having to pay hundreds or sometimes thousands on medical treatment, but also helps guide the individual away from entering a path so drastic.
Discussing the expense of medical treatments for obesity would be expensive to not only the patient but to the nation itself. Obesity has added 9.1% to the United States health funds and accounts for $222 billion of both Medicaid and private health insurance spendings. Depending on the transformation from overweight to minimal obesity or from minimal obesity to second-rate obesity, the expenses from trying to find effective medical treatments for the issue would increase the annual cost from around $13 per year for every male and $45 per year for every female. But by providing easy and basic lifestyle treatments for obesity it could help reduce the annual expense by saving $90 for every male and $300 for every female per year. By categorizing obesity as a disease it would only increase the nation’s spending on trying to provide different medical remedies and surgeries that would not only be unnecessary but also leave the country further into debt.
Also by trying to perceive obesity as a disease based only on an individual’s BMI would make no sense medical wise because physicians need to examine the patient’s history, cholesterol, blood insulin, and etc. Decisions need to be based on the individual’s complete profile not on an unpredictable variable. The most common cause of obesity are the dysfunctions in the patient’s body. Medicine is always an option for the treatment of obesity and the most beneficial type of therapy is lifestyle medicine. Cultural medicine when being compared to clinical medicine is the best type of treatment when discussing the topic on obesity. The surroundings in which individuals populate could also be a cause in how obesity has went from being a rare subject to a universal concern through the decades. Fundamental changes around the environment will provide better opportunities for people to use their feet and forks and not having to rely on pharmacological treatments.
While reviewing the perspectives of the two-sided discussion there is really no way to determine if obesity is truly considered to be a disease or not, considering how both sides provide factual and valid reasons for their conclusions. The issue on obesity will continue to be explored around the globe as the years continue, no matter how much medical information the health community has retained. Not knowing if obesity will eventually be classified as a disease or simply a negative lifestyle choice it is a matter that should neither be avoided or ignored but faced head-on. The nation’s consideration towards every individual who is to be considered obese needs to continue to improve and advance until the problem at hand is at its lowest it has ever been.
- Ata, Rheanna N., et al. “Obesity as a Disease: Effects on Weight-Biased Attitudes and Beliefs.” Stigma and Health, vol. 3, no. 4, Nov. 2018, pp. 406–416.
- Braveman, Paula. A Health Disparities Perspective on Obesity Research. 2009.
- Eileen Beal. “AJN REPORTS: The Pros and Cons of Designating Obesity as a Disease.” The American Journal of Nursing, vol. 113, no. 11, 2013, p. 18.
- Fitzgerald, Kelly. “Obesity Is Now A Disease, American Medical Association Decides.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 17 Aug. 2013.
- Lei Chen, et al. “Deciphering the Relationship between Obesity and Various Diseases from a Network Perspective.” Genes, vol. 8, no. 12, Dec. 2017, p. 392.
- Nutter, Sarah, et al. “Framing Obesity a Disease: Indirect Effects of Affect and Controllability Beliefs on Weight Bias.” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF OBESITY, vol. 42, no. 10, pp. 1804–1811.
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