Obesity’s ‘Disease’ Label May Demotivate Weight Loss, Make People Comfortable With Overweight Status

obesity article photo

A recent article in Medical Daily addresses the issues related to classifying obesity as a “disease” rather than a condition. This has sparked a great deal of controversy. It has allowed some people to feel more comfortable and even “feel healthier,” as shown in a new joint study from the University of Minnesota and the University of Richmond. The researchers went on to state that the people actually saw themselves as healthier because they now were given a diagnosis. Changing the nature of the condition changed how people believed they were affected by it. The apologists however “feel that disease is not always in someone’s control.”

More research is required to gain a greater understanding of how the “obesity is a disease” message influences beliefs about the controllability of weight, and the role of this message in reducing stigma against the obese.”

Source: Hoyt C, Burnette J, Auster-Gussman L. “Obesity Is a Disease” Examining the Self-Regulatory Impact of This Public-Health Message. Psychological Science. 2014 

AMA declares obesity a disease


The largest organization of physicians in the country has officially recognized obesity as a disease, a decision that could encourage health insurance companies to expand coverage and doctors to take the problem more seriously.

Until now, obesity was considered a risk factor for other diseases like type II diabetes or cardiovascular disease. It wasn’t considered an illness in its own right. But last month the American Medical Association voted to categorize the symptoms of obesity – a body mass index above 30 – as a disease. The move was controversial. The delegates who made  the decision overrode a committee’s opinion. But its effects could have a far-reaching impact.

People suffering from obesity are often told they are lazy and that it’s their fault that they are overweight — we see it all the time in our program. With the largest medical organization in the nation declaring it a disease, perhaps this will be the first step in changing how we all think about obesity.

Although the AMA has no direct authority to change policies, it is the largest organization of doctors in the country and its opinions don’t go unnoticed. Doctors may pay closer attention to obese patients and treat obesity more aggressively if they view it as an illness and not a lifestyle choice. Health insurance companies might be more likely to pay for obesity-related symptoms if it is considered a disease. And people suffering from obesity may take steps to improve their health if they see that they are suffering from a disease that could be treated.