THE American Medical Assn. (AMA), at its annual meeting, adopted a position that defines obesity as a disease and urges that medical interventions be used to prevent and treat obesity.
AMA said, in the U.S., obesity is an epidemic, doubling among adults and tripling among children in the last 20 years, and adult obesity could affect almost half of U.S. adults by 2030.
AMA noted that obesity also is linked to other diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain kinds of cancer.
Recognizing obesity as a disease will help lead to changes in the way physicians tackle this complex issue, AMA board member Patrice Harris said in announcing the position.
AMA suggested that its position means that obesity medications and treatments could be coverable by health insurance.
However, some members of the AMA House of Delegates were skeptical, suggesting that while obesity is an epidemic, a risk factor for other diseases and a "scourge" on society, that does not "alone make it a distinct medical disease."
AMA also approved resolutions that call for sugar-sweetened beverages to no longer be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and a prohibition on marketing energy drinks to people under 18 years old.