Obesity is a Disease
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) applauds the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates for its action today to approve a resolution recognizing obesity as a disease state requiring a range of interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention. AACE, the sponsor of the resolution, was joined by specialty and state medical societies in advocating for recognition of obesity as a disease state, including The Endocrine Society, American College of Cardiology, American College of Surgeons, American Urological Association, and the Texas State Delegation among many others.
AACE vigorously advocated its position in light of the abundance of clinical evidence to identify obesity as a multi-metabolic and hormonal disease state, producing signs, symptoms, and morbidity which satisfies the AMA’s established definition of a disease. AACE has also recently advanced a complications-centric model of medical care for the obese patient as a component of its Comprehensive Treatment Algorithm for Diabetes. In this model, treatment is targeted to obese patients with complications who will benefit most from weight loss therapy in a paradigm that optimizes the benefit-risk ratio and patient outcomes.
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of health conditions and diseases including breast cancer, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, colon cancer, hypertension and stroke. The medical cost of adult obesity in the United States is estimated to range between $147 billion to nearly $210 billion per year. In the United States, obesity is estimated to cause 111,909 to 365,000 deaths each year. On average, obesity reduces life expectancy by six to seven years, while severe obesity, characterized as a BMI greater than 40, reduces life expectancy by 10 years. The CDC reports that 60 million Americans age 20 and older are obese, with African Americans and Hispanics having a greater prevalence of obesity than non-Hispanic whites.
Past efforts to contain obesity as a social and lifestyle phenomenon have failed and have led the nation to the point of epidemic obesity in our country. Based on accumulating scientific evidence, AACE concludes that the disease of obesity must be addressed using a robust medical model for treatment and prevention that includes lifestyle modifications, medications, and surgery together with interventions targeted to public education, behavioral change, and the built environment.
“A paradigm shift is needed to reverse the course of this epidemic that now afflicts more than 60 million Americans,” said Dr. Jeffrey Mechanick, President of AACE. “The action by the AMA House of Delegates represents a major step in addressing obesity head-on and helping patients to get appropriate interventions and treatment they need.”