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Obesity a disease?????

Given that I love debate, I'm going to post a topic to debate relative to fitness. I read the other day that the AMA just classified obesity as a "disease".

My question is this:
Do you consider it a disease, and if so, should the government cover its treatment. Actually, I hate when people say should the gov't pay, since the gov't doesn't pay anything, my taxes do. So when/if you want to say "the gov't should pay", please state it as "Peelout should be forced to pay. That is more accurate).

Here are thoughts on the subject. I'm conflicted and both make sense to me.

1. Obesity is not a disease as far as being bacteria/virus that you catch. Yes, certain people are more prone to gaining wt due to lower metabolism. That is a genetic trait. And yes, some people have emotional issues that make losing wt difficult. I however can not currently jump high or run fast. or far. I could choose to work on that, by my mind is not wired to develop those skills and it would be very hard for me to force myself to develop the skills. Losing wt is definitely hard, harder for some than others. However, just like quitting smoking, it is possible, and it is not my responsibility to pay for someone elses addictions. I quit smoking on my own (using a free website for help). I lost wt using a free web site (this one). There have been plenty of examples showing morbidly obese people losing wt. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Am I responsible for health issues brought on by other peoples lack of control? Can we afford to pay for treatment for people who continue to make unhealthy eating choices and never exercise? Just as I don't believe I should be forced to pay medical treatment for a motorcyclist who injured his head because he chose not to wear a helmet, or a smoker who develops lung cancer, I don't believe I should be forced to pay for a person who refuses to do anything to improve their health.

2. Obviously obesity is not a bacteria or virus. But as a society, we do pay for mental health treatments, and despite much effort, some people can not develop the will power to do what it takes. As far as the cost, the cost of obesity costs Peelout indirectly through lost work, sickness, etc. In the same way an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol, an obese person is mentally addicted to food. The food is a comfort drug and unfortunately, the unhealthy foods such as chocolate contain the chemicals that give the brain what it needs in terms of a short term good feeling. We can't control the way we are wired. I personally used to binge drink and have sampled a wide variety of illegal drugs. When I was 25 I got married and by 26, I quit everything (OK, I've had about 12 beers in the last 27yrs). My ability to drink and use drugs w/o getting addicted was simply luck in the way my mind was wired. Despite the addictive properties of my drugs of choice, I was able to use only recreationally. It was simply the way I am wired. To say that an obese person does not have a disease is to ignore the fact that not all of our brains work the same way.

I see validity in both these arguments and I kind of go back and forth between the two. I lean more toward the first because I do feel that as a society, we are losing the aspect of personal responsibility. 100 years ago, obesity was not nearly as prevalent. Society and our culture changed, not our bodies. If obesity is truly a disease, then we should have had just as high a percentage of obese people 100 years ago as we do today. As you can see, I'm running around in circles.

So what are your thoughts. I'm always open to other opinions. The only thing I am 100% sure of is my ability to be wrong.


Sat. Jun 22, 9:56pm

Add comment I've been pondering this all day. Here's what I've come up with. I don't care what they call it if the end result is more people end up dealing with their obesity and make changes to get healthier. I think treating obesity will cost less in the long run vs. untreated obesity and the myriad of health problems associated with it -all of which drive up health costs, employer costs, etc. Either way, if you look at it as something for which "I'm paying for" I'd much rather people take action and deal with it - I'm all for people taking control of their lives and their health and getting whatever help they need to achieve it. And I don't actually get mad at people's self destructive behaviors for driving up my health insurance costs, I get royally ticked off that I don't get a discount for RARELY needing health care.

Maybe some people need to feel it's beyond their control before they take control, but I'm guessing the medical community classified it as a disease more for the predictable and negative outcome if left untreated vs. this idea that it lets people off the hook for personal responsibility. So, ultimately, I think not treating obesity if FAR more expensive in the long run than whatever costs may or may not be incurred for classifying it as a disease.

And don't even get me started on the US, GMOs, Big Business food and agriculture, etc. It's all related!! UGH.

Sunday, June 23, 2013, 3:45 PM

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Interesting comment. I noticed that here and on PNP, the comment regarding food companies came up. I'm going to take the opposite side of the debate when it comes to food. I don't believe food companies bear any responsibility for obesity when it comes to making junk food (unless they are putting illegal or untested chemicals in it). Food companies make what the consumer asks for. There are plenty of healthy options out there, but the consumer does not purchase them.

Another thought came to mind regarding health costs. As a past smoker (I finally quit a few months ago), I spent lots of money on nicotine replacement and tried zyban and stuff like that. I spent my money to do it and wasted a lot trying to quit. If I were paying for someone to quit, I would not be happy paying lots of different times.

One thing I fully support, and I did when I was a smoker as well, was higher insurance premiums for people who smoke. Smoking was a choice, regardless of how hard it was to quit. I believe all insurance companies should charge a much higher premium if a person smokes, and I would happy to require mandatory testing. In the same way, I support higher insurance rates for obesity if I am going to be taxed to proved support for people to lose wt. If I have to pay to give people treatment, I expect a return on my money regarding their choices.

As I mentioned previously, obesity was not a big problem 100yrs ago. Our genetics didn't change, our personal choices did.

Would love to hear more view points.

Sunday, June 23, 2013, 6:12 PM

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I am the Queen of Personal Responsibility (QPR) But oh my - food companies put all kinds of stuff in their foods for the explicit purpose of triggering the desire for more and more and more. They don't sell us food - they sell us chemically laden, laboratory created concoctions presented as a food item! And they fight tooth and nail to prevent truth in labeling, and they share brain research with tobacco companies - is that what we consumers demand and desire? To be sold food that's addictive? And while genetics haven't changed in the last 100 years the food industry has absolutely changed. Soley responsibly? Absolutely not. Complicit? How could it not play a role?

But forget all the WHY - it's here and it doesn't boil down to one singular factor. People are obese, children are obese, people need help. If by somehow calling it a disease helps - great. I would never begrudge anyone seeking treatment for something that is self destructive.

(btw - Years ago I used to be the one arguing that food companies and McDonald's etc. weren't forcing anyone to buy their food - it's all individual choice.!)

Sunday, June 23, 2013, 11:56 PM

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^^ bravo!

Monday, June 24, 2013, 12:13 AM

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Regarding child obesity:

Despite food additives, I think most childhood obesity is the parents fault. Note that I said most. It is parents who allow their kids to spend endless hours playing video games and watching TV. I have never had cable TV. I could easily afford it, but I did not want to make watching TV any more enticing that the standard free channels. I've never had high speed internet, just broad band. Purpose was both to save money and keep the kids away from online gaming. McDonalds was a rarity when my kids were growiing up. Parenting is a responsibility. Allowing kids to sit on their butts all day and eat crap is a parents fault. A parent needs to remember who is in charge. The parent is, Of course, everything I just said applies to the parent as well when it comes to their health. Other than pesticides, I don't think there anything in my fruits and vegy's that is addictive. When I eat at McDonalds or eat prepackaged food, its my choice. When I sit in front of the TV instead of exercising, that is also my choice.

Monday, June 24, 2013, 8:21 AM

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Other thoughts...The medical community treats lung cancer, and other cancers as diseases. The evidence is overwhelming that smoking, eating processed food, and other human behaviors strongly contribute to the onset of these diseases. It might save the insurance companies, and us, more in the long run if energy, money and education were directed at preventing addiction and "curing" addiction. What percentage of our diseases are causes genetics; what percentage are caused by our behavior, and do we really want to break it down that way? Maybe we need to be educated in pursuing healthy pleasure, rather than falling into the trap of addiction. Just thinking...


Monday, June 24, 2013, 12:34 PM

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Obesity can lead to more serious health problem if it is not controlled. - Gary McClure

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