So yesterday the American Medical Association made a bold announcement -they now officially recognize obesity as a disease. Their reason for doing so? To change the way physicians address obesity with their patients and to spur more insurers to pay for treatments.
Addressing obesity is of utmost importance especially in our current state where doctors openly admit they avoid talking about weight and insurers pay for treatment of obesity-related chronic disease but not healthy lifestyle incentives. Let’s face it though, calling obesity a disease doesn’t make talking about it with a patient any easier. These conversations can be uncomfortable, not just for the patient but the physician or dietitian as well. Also, insurance companies can’t foot the bill for everything, obesity treatment and prevention, all at once.
With the AMA’s decision not having any legal authority over physicians or insurers though, I guess I’m left wondering, will calling obesity a disease really change anything for the better? Perhaps, but my concern lies here.
Physicians and insurance companies treat disease with medication. That’s how it’s been for decades. While obesity drugs may help fight the disease, they won’t prevent it. It’s a losing battle. An expensive, losing battle. I imagine obesity drug manufacturers will be dancing their way to the bank more-so now than ever before -and that my friends, has me worried. It’s easier to prescribe a weight loss medication than to have that awkward obesity conversation and get the patient the weight loss counseling they may need.
Calling obesity a disease – Are you satisfied? I’m not. As medical professionals, there’s a lot we need to do to make sure this disease is not only treated but also prevented -preferably with as little reliance on drugs as possible.
Thought-provoking image by Melissa Gruntkosky