If Obesity Is a Disease, Why Are So Many Obese People Healthy?

Follow @TIMEIdeas The decision of the American Medical Association (AMA) to classify obesity as a disease is great news for the pharmaceutical industry, as it is likely to increase pressure on the probiotic supplements Food and Drug Administration to approve more weight-loss drugs and increase the odds that insurance companies will reimburse their cost. But it is deeply misleading. Treating obesity as a disease implies that moving into the category of obesity, which for adults means moving from a body-mass index (BMI) of 29 to a BMI of 30, is equivalent to contracting a disease. But that is simply not the case. (MORE: Viewpoint: The New Food Police Are Out of Touch ) Yes, there are certain health risks associated with having an elevated BMI, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. More broadly, a higher BMI is associated with a greater risk of cardiometabolic abnormalities, as measured by blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, glucose, insulin resistance and inflammation.

First Person: My Obesity Is My Disease and My Problem

I now suffer from anxiety and depression and avoid meeting new people or gathering with old friends. It is the number one challenge in my life, yet I cannot seem to conquer it. My situation is not unique. Obesity often leads to other health issues, both physical and emotional. For these reasons, in addition to the health consequences of obesity itself, recognizing it as a disease seems warranted. I disagree with the Council on Science and Public Health, however.


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