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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

AMA Declares Obesity a Disease

You would have to be living under a rock to not know this. When I first hear of things like this, I feel like I am stupid if I don't have an immediate opinion.  Do you know what I mean? I heard about this headline and I wasn't sure what to think.  And I felt I should already have a stance on the topic because if my background knowledge.  (Not that I'm an expert, but I've been doing some research.) So, I read this article that my mom sent me via email and then formed somewhat of an opinion.

To summarize the article (without looking at it), obesity has now been declared a disease so that the medical community will pay more attention to it. The potential health problems that obesity causes are so staggering that we all need to be treating it very seriously.  Declaring obesity a disease will allow doctors more ability to discuss treatment options and medication with patients. It will allow businesses and insurances to treat obesity with importance.  It will also (hopefully) help all of us talk more openly about obesity in the doctor's office instead of worrying about being rude.

My first reaction is that I don't know if a "disease" is the correct term to use. It seems to lump obesity in with a lot of other illnesses that are uncontrollable.  I feel like the English language needs a new term for behavior-caused health issues that is equal to, but different than the term "disease."  I don't know. Just a wild thought.

My assumption is that this is a nation-wide, blanket solution that will not really have the benefits that it intends to have. Having said that, after reading the LA Times article, I think this might be a move in the right direction. I am glad that this will open up the conversation for doctors and insurance companies to discuss this problem with patients.  Not only because they should, but they have a legal responsibility to talk about it now. Before, they could ignore it if they wanted to and then just prescribe medicine for the high blood pressure or the diabetes. Doctors can no longer ignore it because it's an uncomfortable topic.  I think that's a good thing.

It would be a bad thing if doctors just use the label as a way to prescribe medicine to treat it.  The "medicine" should be nutrition.  And I don't mean pills or Slimfast shakes.  I mean spinach.

I think the real power in changing the problem will really come from the bottom up...not the top down.  I say that because I think obese Americans already know that being obese can lead to health problems.  Some may already have doctors who are treating their weight condition seriously. I think every single obese American would totally want to NOT be obese.  So where does that leave us?

I really think that the people who are doing it right need to be more vocal for their friends and family. What if we would talk about weight with our LOVED ONES without worrying about being rude or insensitive. What if obesity wasn't an off-limits topic? I'm NOT trying to toot my own horn here, but I think I can count about 4 people who have changed the way they think and the way they eat because of me.  Colby. Alexandria. Mom. Dad.  These people have told me that because of me they are changing. Christa and I can both equally claim Mom & Dad. ;)  Then I have my friends who are changing the way they eat and/or think about health and I MIGHT have a small part in it? I won't name names, but I can count 7.  Now, you can see that one person is creating a web of influence.  If you go backward, I got my inspiration to start getting fit from my sister, Christa.  She probably has an entire list of people she has inspired.  My bestie, Jen, and I started at the same exact time. She probably has an entire web of people she has influenced to be more healthy. This kind of influence is a 2-way street.  Fit people cannot beat people over the head with it.  People need to ask questions. Talk about health, food, and fitness. Then turn those talks into actions. Think about the power of that. If every one person took action and got healthy then turned that action into inspiration for 10 others who also make changes.  That is when we change the health of the country.


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