The American Medical Association made headlines June 18, 2013 by acknowledging that obesity is, in fact, a true disease. For those struggling with overweight and for those of us engaged in the medical battle against obesity these past 20 years, this was not really news, but an affirmation of sorts. Indeed, both the medical causes and complications of obesity are just as medical in nature as other common diseases. Let me explain…
Obesity has very clear medical factor causes that have been well documented in research. Ever wonder why some people struggle with obesity and others do not? Here is a partial list of reasons why:
Research-Proven Medical Factors Contributing to Obesity:
- Genetics (approximately 70% of the influence on your weight destiny)
- Metabolic Rate (influenced by genetics, stress, sleep, vitamin status, others)
- Hormone Function (thyroid, growth hormone, estrogen, testosterone, others)
- Activity Level (being paid to sit, fatigue, poor climate, social factors, hobby preferences)
- Nutrition Factors (food exposures, environment, food costs)
- Social Factors (family upbringing, friend influences, work factors)
- Medication Factors (many medications cause weight gain!)
- Psychological Factors (stress, depression, “winter blues” affect weight)
- Appetite Factors (influenced by brain signal imbalances, i.e. leptin, ghrelin, CCK, PYY)
Simply ask yourself how many in the above list are easy or possible for an individual to control! How many are attributable to some defect in character or intelligence? I think you will struggle to find any!!! No one, let me repeat, no one chooses obesity! It is the unwanted plague of our generation.
Now consider the formal definition of disease. Human disease is defined as a disorder of structure or function. The “fat-storage” disease of obesity qualifies on both accounts.
Disorder of Structure: Those with the “Obesity” disease have a very measurable structural disorder as the body’s fat cells experience an unwanted explosive growth in both number and size, to the point of compromising normal body composition and structure.
Disorder of Function: The functional limitations from obesity are obvious, with decreased activity levels for pleasure and productivity, and subtle, with abnormal functions of blood chemistry, brain function, heart function, joint function, and other problems that arise.
Every American should know, very clearly, that obesity is an unwanted disease! After assisting over 15,000 patients with this disease, these 5 truths have become crystal clear:
- No one wants to be obese
- No one deserves to be obese
- No one wants the health problems of obesity
- No one wants the daily oppression of obesity
- And… all those who are obese want an exit strategy… and now!
Further, the complications of obesity are painful, expensive, pleasure-limiting, life-limiting and, at times, deadly! No one who looks honestly at the well-documented causes and complications of obesity can deny it qualifies as a disease.
Let’s be clear. Obesity is a disease and a serious disease at that! Name another disease with such severe consequences. Obesity should be addressed thoughtfully, intentionally, and very strategically. The biggest medical error of our time is to underestimate the powerful causes, the devastating consequences, and the tremendous benefits of aggressive medical and nutritional treatment of unwanted weight gain. Now, with the AMA’s support, let’s be a part of the solution, move past the social stigmas, and embrace real answers for this devastating disease…
For Optimum Health,
Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H.