Obesity as a disease: What does it mean for Americans? - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Obesity as a disease: What does it mean for Americans?

Posted: Updated:
FoxNews.com -

Now that obesity has been officially classified as a disease by the American Medical Association (AMA), many are wondering how this will affect the 35.7 percent of Americans who are described as obese by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Will this decision help facilitate better treatments for people who are currently obese? And will this new classification help combat the country's growing obesity epidemic? Dr. Leena Khaitan, director of the bariatric surgery program at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, hopes the answers to those questions will be, ‘Yes.'

"Right now, physicians will treat high blood pressure, diabetes, give patients medications and say, ‘Oh you also need to lose weight,'" Khaitan told FoxNews.com. "I think (this) gives the physicians a little more credibility in pushing patients to address obesity and become healthier. It's recognized as a disease…not just something that (because) you have poor lifestyle habits, this is your problem."

The AMA, which voted for the change on Tuesday, concurs, saying they hope their decision will prompt greater communication between doctors and patients.

"The most important point we want to make is it will be important for physicians and patients to work together to develop weight goals and other goals as well," Dr. Patrice Harris, an AMA board member, told FoxNews.com. "The point is to raise the level of awareness about obesity and have patients and physicians talk together to decide on weight goals, blood pressure goals, cholesterol goals (and) blood glucose goals."

Obesity is associated with a range of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and an increased risk for cancer. Though numerous treatments exist to treat problems associated with obesity – like high blood pressure and cholesterol – remedies for obesity are limited.

According to Khaitan, bariatric surgery is often the best option for obese people who haven't been able to lose weight through traditional diet and exercise programs. However, weight loss surgery is often seen as an elective procedure by insurance companies, meaning patients usually have to pass through many hurdles before they undergo the procedure.

"Up until now, without that classification, the path to obesity surgery (has been) very challenging," Khaitan said. "Oftentimes people have to pay extra to have that type of insurance policy, (and) many employers choose not to cover it because it's consider an elective operation. Now, we're saying obesity surgery is no longer elective, it is truly something that will treat (this) disease and is potentially lifesaving."

Additionally, Khaitan hopes that the changes will also make it easier for obese patients – or those at risk for obesity – to receive nutritional counseling.

Read more from FOXNews.com.

Follow Us!

Share Your Photos & Video

  • HealthHealthMore>>

  • Losing the weight without cutting the butter

    Losing the weight without cutting the butter

    If you're trying to lose some weight, or lower your blood pressure, you may be trying to cut the fat out of your diet. Dietician Sylvia Melendez Klinger says some fat is good for you, even butter!
    If you're trying to lose some weight, or lower your blood pressure, you may be trying to cut the fat out of your diet. Dietician Sylvia Melendez Klinger says some fat is good for you, even butter!
  • Dr. Mona: Kids and codeine

    Dr. Mona: Kids and codeine

    Dr. Mona joined us on FOX 32 News at Noon to talk about what codeine is used for in children and why it may be dangerous.
    Dr. Mona joined us on FOX 32 News at Noon to talk about what codeine is used for in children and why it may be dangerous.
  • Drug samples may lead to more expensive prescriptions

    Drug samples may lead to more expensive prescriptions

    Have you ever received free samples of medication at your doctor's office? Dr. Mona Khanna talks about an eye-opening study about how doctors are influenced to prescribe expensive medication.
    Have you ever received free samples of medication at your doctor's office? Dr. Mona Khanna talks about an eye-opening study about how doctors are influenced to prescribe expensive medication.
Powered by WorldNow

KSAZ-TV & KUTP
511 W. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Phone: (602) 257-1234
Fax: (602) 262-0177

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices