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Is Obesity a Disease?

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Published: Tue, 10 Oct 2017

Obesity is Not a disease- Michel Tanner AMA Declares Obesity a Disease- Liz Neporent

  • John Pollina

One of the most controversial issues related to the health field is obesity. Obesity affects one-third or thirty-five percent of Americans today. The biggest controversy around this topic is whether obesity should be considered a disease. The American Medical Association or AMA has recently declared obesity as a disease after years of debates. However even with this declaration there are still major controversial debates circulating about this topic and how the AMA was right to do so and how it was the wrong thing to do. Furthermore, two articles were written about both the different sides of this debate to demonstrate the difference of opinions.

Writer “A” is Liz Neporent of ABC News who wrote an article about the AMA’s recent declaration of obesity as a disease and those that support the affirmation. Obesity researcher James O’Hill welcomes the decision from the AMA because high BMI numbers really put people at risk. Moreover, a member of the AMA Board of Trustees, Dr. Patrice Harris stated that by declaring obesity as a disease, they expected that it would open up a variety of medical interventions that would in turn help the one-third of Americans with obesity. Moreover, the overall opinion of this writer shows is that many doctors agree with the AMA and that it is a step in right direction in order to move forward with an increasingly growing concern. By increasing the level of importance by making obesity a disease, third-party payers are encouraged to raise the level of coverage for obesity treatments as well as more studies in this area. Thus, allowing this decision, the high rate of people with obesity will get the help they need with the ability to have their treatments covered to potentially lower the rates of people staying and becoming obese. (Neporent, 2013)

Writer “B” or Michael Tanner, wrote an article about how obesity should not be considered a disease. He does not deny that this country has a growing obesity problem however; his opinion is that by declaring obesity as a disease the AMA is not really helping these people. He states that the AMA decision transfers responsibility to lose weight from the individual to society as a whole. He also states that bringing the government into this situation will not be affective in fighting the problem against obesity. In fact, having the government involved could make losing weight even more problematic than it already is. By medicalizing obesity you could potentially be escalating patient and doctor dependence on costly surgical or pharmacological treatments rather than social resolutions like exercising in a community gym to achieve healthy behaviors. Thus, his overall opinion is that the AMA is seeking a way to tackle obesity with money and the lack of individual responsibility instead of allowing these individuals to take accountability for their lives and improve on their own. (Tanner, 2013)

The problem when reading about Writer A’s opinion is that they seem to be too fixated on the increase of money to fix a public health problem. They recognize that there is a problem but the way to fix it is by receiving money from a third party. They don’t feel like a person should have any responsibility for the way they eat or for the lack of exercise in their life. The AMA sees a growing problem and seeks to relieve it through government means. Too much of their opinion is based on money that they do not even factor in that doctors and physicians should already be talking to their clients about their weight and encourage them to pursue a healthy lifestyle. They don’t cast any blame or guilt on behalf of the individuals and just state that the government will include more resources to tackle weight lose problems since it is a disease. (Neporent, 2013)

On the other hand, writer “B” brings up good points that contradict what writer A talks about. This writer has more of a fix-yourself attitude where people should be able to fix their weight problems themselves rather than resorting to expensive medical treatment like surgery and expensive pills. However, this writer speaks in a way that every case of obesity is exactly the same. There are cases where people are too lazy to do things to lose weight. However, there are cases with people who have tried many things but it is too difficult due to other factors in their life. Writer “B” is relays his opinion that everyone with an obesity problem doesn’t try to live a better life and is not acknowledging that there are circumstances where drastic measures do need to happen. (Tanner, 2013)

Writer “A” has effective qualities in support of their position in the debate over obesity which is clear because the policy has passed. They successfully reached out to the one-third of Americans with obesity problems by showing that they want to help them by recognizing that obesity is a disease and change needs to occur. What makes their position more effective is having other doctors in the field talking about how great it this change is and how it’s a step in the right direction. People want to feel like they are getting assistance and by the AMA and the other doctors agreeing, they won the support of thirty-five percent or one-third of the population. Moreover, their argument shows heart and support in wanting to assist people in living longer and providing the necessary tools to do so.

On the other hand, writer “B” has ineffective qualities. The writer definitely has a clear message that people who are obese should not find an easy way out of their situation. People should be living a healthy lifestyle and taking responsibility for eating habits. However, the reason the writer is not that effective is because there is not a lot of people that would back up his prospects. The only people that would back them up are people who are health conscious which not most people are.

All in all, both writers bring strong points to the argument as to whether obesity should be considered a disease. They both acknowledge that obesity is a problem but they disagree on how it should be handled. Writer A wants more money from third parties to cover costs of intervention strategies in order for people to receive treatments. On the other hand, writer B feels that personal responsibility trumps over everything and the individual should take a more proactive approach in their daily lives. Being labeled as a disease, for writer “A”, gives more opportunities medically to seek help. However, being labeled as a disease for writer “B” gives the people no responsibility for their unhealthy lifestyles and gives more leeway to sue food industries for their own choices. Furthermore, each writer makes persuasive arguments for their side and provides great contribution to the topic which will continue to be debated.

As for my opinion I undeniably side with writer “B” that obesity should not be considered a disease. For me, I feel like people want someone to blame when they are sick or overweight. Now the AMA and doctors that agree have given into the people by giving them someone to blame (food industries, ect) and saying that your obesity is not your fault. Moreover, I recognize that obesity is a problem in this country and it should definitely be addressed but not by making one-third of Americans being categorized by having a disease. Obesity can cause people to live shorter lives, develop obesity and hypertension. However, smoking can cause lung cancer and emphysema and that is not considered a disease. Dietary choices and exercise is what plays a vital role in obesity. More attention should be on prevention and personal responsibility. People should not blame food industries for their lack of self-control. Everyone has the choice to eat or not to eat something. There are so many things one can do to lose weight which is why I would not consider obesity to be a disease. Someone with cancer or a mental illness is a few examples of what a disease is because cancer attacks the body and sometimes you can’t fight or protect yourself from it. Lastly, as someone who used to be overweight when I was younger, being athletic now influences by ability to be anything but objective. I continue to work hard to eat right and exercise to remain healthy which is what many of these people should be doing rather than surgical treatments and pills.

References

Tanner, M. (2013, July 3). Obesity Is Not a Disease. National Review Online. Retrieved from: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/352626/obesity-not-disease-michael-tanner

Neporent, L. (2013, June 19). AMA Declares Obesity a Disease. ABC News. Retrieved from: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/american-medical-association-classifies-obesity-disease/story?id=19439304


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