The American Medical Association made a surprising decision that obesity is a disease. The announcement on June 17th in Washington D.C. and will have an impact on millions of American lives. The intention was to reduce the stigmatization of those deemed overweight.
This concept makes me really nervous.
Let me begin with the statement that I am very aware that the ability to lose weight is impacted by many medical issues.
So who is considered obese?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation that is based on your height and weight. According to the calculator site on the CDC website it is a reliable indicator of body fat for most people. My issue with using BMI is that it only takes two pieces of information into account: Your height and weight.
Check your own BMI with this online calculator on the WebMD website.
The entire process of this calculation is frightening. There is no accounting for muscle mass, and many professional athletes would be classified as obese by BMI calculations.
This calculation is often misinterpreted as being equivalent to the to finding out the percentage of body fat. There are tests that can identify the percentage of body fat, but this is definitely not it. If you truly want an accurate test of health, body fat percentage is the way to go.
I don’t believe the first step on the path to health and wellness will be looking at a misleading BMI chart.
Help or hurt: Can legislation declaring obesity a disease improve the health of America?
My immediate response when hearing about this AMA ruling was fear. First thoughts: How easy will it be to get prescription drugs to “fix” my weight problems? How long will it take to get doctor approval for weight loss surgery?
I have friends and family who have dealt with weight issues stemming from medical issues, food addiction, and chemical imbalances. Weight is a factor in overall health, but by treating the end result simply to see the number on the scale go down, we may be missing the big picture. This can not really be where American health improvement is heading.
Apparently not everyone in Washington is in agreement.
The Council on Science and Public Health, an AMA advisory body disagrees with the use of BMI as an obesity gauge. There is also a ton of speculation on how this decision will impact the insurance costs.
This my main concern for those who may be classified as obese, and have no medical issues stopping them from losing weight through lifestyle changes. Let’s just admit it. Elective surgery is readily accepted in the United States for cosmetic purposes. So where’s the line in allowing surgery to become a standard practice for the future of weight loss medical treatment?
We are beyond lucky – in a twisted way – to even live in a society where this is an issue, but I truly worry about those in need of healthy lifestyle changes being offered a comparative easy way out.
Is this potentially a benefit for those truly in need of support or will we see weight loss surgery increase?
I had my chance on top of the soapbox, you tell me what you think in the comments.
Lets go get our fit on – Heather
Heather Montgomery is a fitness writer, triathlete, and blogger who is devoted to sharing what she has learned about becoming a triathlete after age 40. She uses her Metabolic Training Certification to help other women struggling to get fit in mid-life. She lives and trains in Santa Rosa, California, the new home of the Ironman triathlon. You can find her biking the Sonoma County wine trails.