Obesity Now Defined as Disease By American Medical Association

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The American Medical Association formally voted earlier this week to classify obesity as a disease, one that 35 percent of U.S. adults reportedly have.

The classification is aimed in part to get doctors to tackle obesity as if they were treating a disease, rather than a mere lifestyle in need of modification.

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Dr. Patrice Harris of the AMA said in a statement:

"Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles a complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans."

"The AMA is committed to improving health and working to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, which are often linked to obesity."

Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) - a ratio of height over weight - of 30 or higher. People are considered normal weight with a BMI of 18.5-24.9.

While obesity may not have formally been considered a disease before, it has certainly been linked to diseases by growing bodies of research.

Studies have linked obesity to risk increases for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, liver disease, sleep apnea, breathing problems, and osteoarthritis.

Moreover, experts believe it can lead to joint pain, infertility, sexual side effects and cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, pancreas and kidneys.

The 2013 "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer" found significant rises in obesity-related cancers over the past three decades.

Heart disease in particular is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, doctors say. On and on the studies go.

Obesity's new disease classification may also make more Americans realize what inactivity and non-healthy recipes could be doing to their health.

A January 2013 survey showed that as many as 70 percent of Americans know heart disease and diabetes are health risks tied to obesity.

However, only 7 percent of respondents knew cancer was a risk and 5 percent knew asthma and sleep apnea could be helped by shedding pounds.

The new disease classification could also have an impact on legislation in D.C. and with insurance companies, regarding procedures and medications.

What do you think: Should obesity be considered a disease?

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