The American Medical Association Declares Obesity a Disease
MELROSE PARK, Ill. - One-third of all U.S. adults (78 million) and 12 million children suffer from obesity, which the American Medical Association has now officially declared a disease.
“We now know that excess adipose (fat) tissue is active rather than inert. It alters hormones, releases cytokines and inflammatory factors, all of which cause metabolic derangements,” said Jessica Bartfield, MD, bariatrician at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care. “For the obese patient, even if the excess weight is not causing any current medical problems, that patient faces a higher risk of several other diseases."
Obesity is diagnosed when the body mass index exceeds 30. “The obesity designation will hopefully prompt more physicians to properly screen for and treat obesity and it will support improved insurance coverage for obesity treatment,” Bartfield said. “Both will improve patients’ access to effective obesity treatment."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, treatment of obesity-related diseases adds more than $150 billion to the nation’s medical bill each year.
“Although lifestyle and behaviors highly influence a person’s weight, research continues to find multiple other factors including genetics, environment, hormonal balances and sleep patterns ,which underscore the complexity of this disease,” said Bartfield, who is part of Loyola’s multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, nutritionists, exercise physiologists and surgeons. “Obesity often acts as the common denominator for all other medical conditions a patient may suffer, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoarthritis or sleep apnea."
Medicare currently funds medical care for an estimated 13 million obese Americans who are disabled or over 65, but many other insurance providers are not as generous.
In addition to a nonsurgical medical weight loss program, Loyola offers surgical procedures including laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. Loyola takes an integrated team approach, and education and support groups play an important role in all aspects of care. To learn more about medical and surgical weight loss at Loyola, or to sign up for a free information session, please call (800) 504-1397 or visit loyolamedicine.com/bariatrics.