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Should Obesity Be Labeled A Disease?

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Last week the American Medical Association has pronounced obesity a disease. What that means is that now many health practitioners can prescribe treatments that might be covered under the coming Affordable Care Act. But like anything else these “do-gooder” groups do, there are unintended consequences where the cure just might be worse than the disease.

It’s entirely possible that those that hate fast food, real butter, sugar and other food items may go after the restaurant and other food industries with both barrels blazing. And we all know that America has a way of overreaching when it comes to societal good.

We’ve already seen the effects of a “big brother” mentality in New York City where Mayor Bloomberg tried to regulate the size of soft drinks. More and more restaurants are seeing a rise in customers looking for healthier meals. And many are trying to capitalize on that need. Yet, the turnaround in healthy dining many not be fast enough or comprehensive enough for many food zealots.

Too Many Questions; Too Few Answers

The AMA is simply an organization, much like a chamber of commerce for the medical profession. It has no real legal standing to demand any changes in diets or food groups. No one knows the ramifications, if any, that this pronouncement will create. Will there be any effect on medical research, treatments for obesity, insurance coverage or public policy.

Will this new definition open the door for an often tried but never successful court battle where the plaintiff claims that McDonald’s made him or her fat? Will Pizza Hutt be under the courtroom gavel in the future? Will people have to weigh in at restaurants? There is already talk of charging the overweight a surcharge to fly in an airplane.

Addiction vs. Personal Responsibility

Science has made claims that there are people with “addictive” personalities. Those personalities, which are more susceptible to certain types of addiction.  Food addiction is certainly one that makes everyone’s list along with alcohol, illegal and prescription drugs.

The problem is, with smoking and alcohol; you can quit those “cold turkey” and survive. You can’t quit eating and expect to live much longer than a few days or weeks. So imagine the smoker or drinker trying to regulate how much they can smoke or drink without lung or liver damage.

Is deciding to get seconds at dinner or have an extra piece of cake and addiction that’s beyond normal control or is it just lack of will power?

Some Final Thoughts

Millions of dollars are spent each year combatting the battle of the bulge. Every imaginable diet book, gastric bypass surgery, lap bands, and health clubs are all cashing in on the weight loss obsession. Some of us eat to live while others live to eat. There is no question that we are exposed to some very unhealthy food choices each day. Fast food, sugar and salt packed snacks, all contribute to the national expanding waistlines we seem to be experiencing.

If obesity is a disease, real or imagined, does that open the door for a new excuse? “There’s nothing I can do about my weight. I have fat disease.” Are we really a diseased culture or are we just spoiled and lazy. What’s your opinion?

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