Obesity has always been poorly understood within healthcare. It was generally thought that the solution to Obesity was to eat less and burn more calories, and that the inability to achieve desired results was related to laziness and undisciplined behavior. The blame was placed back onto the patient. The message was “if you’re fat, it’s your fault.” This statement is 100% false, however it is still commonly the message we hear today.
Recently, in 2013, the American Medical Association issued a statement that classifies Obesity as an actual disease….. Not because of laziness and undisciplined behavior.
What is the definition of a disease? The American Medical Association proposes that a disease must have the 3 following characteristics:
1. Impairment of the function of some aspect of the body:
The intake of food is regulated by specific signals sent and received by the brain, as well as signals from the body, including the gut, the pancreas, and the fat tissue. This balance helps to regulate the feelings of hunger, and allows for body weight regulation.
Studies show that the Hedonic Pathway, or Reward System”, can override the brain’s regulatory system for food intake and energy balance. Certain foods in our environment are acting in some ways like a hormone that serves to reset the body’s target weight.
There is also impairments with insulin sensitivity and hyperinsulinemia. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. Insulin moves sugar out of the blood stream into fat, muscle, and liver cells to be stored or used as energy. High insulin levels promote excess storage of fat and worsening weight gain.
2. Characteristic Signs and Symptoms:
Obesity is characterized by excessive adipose (fat) tissue and can manifest as increased BMI, increased waist circumference, and/or increased body fat percentage.
3. Harm and Morbidity:
Obesity can be associated with medical conditions, which many tend to improve with weight loss.