Obesity is a complex and mufti-layered issue with implications for public health, insurance policies, federal oversight, social stigmatization, and the economy. Jack Collins from Academic Earth shared this great video highlighting the cost of obesity and how it impacts our global economy.
Collins and his colleagues claim that, “65% of the world’s population live in a country where you’re more likely to die for being obese than you are for being underweight.”
The financial burden of obesity and the rate at which obesity and obesity-related diseases continue to climb in the US, brings this issue at a crucial crossroads. Now, more than ever, we need to take definitive action on a national level to help turn this around and reshape our futures to embrace optimal living.
The American Medical Association (AMA) announced last week that they will now officially classify obesity as a disease requiring medical attention and treatment.
This news from the AMA is the most recent step taken by the medical community to acknowledge the link between severe weight gain and significant health concerns while also raising important questions about how to turn this epidemic around in the years to come.
Many consider obesity to be a gateway to many other illnesses such as diabetes and coronary heart disease which can be diagnosed and treated with a wide variety of methods ranging from prescription medicines to embracing a holistic whole diet and lifestyle. The relationship to obesity is there, but without an immediate diagnosis of obesity in and of itself, many continue to face serious health risks without proper treatment until it’s too late.
Recognizing obesity as a disease opens up new doors that may have a positive impact on how to help address the epidemic from a medical standpoint. Health insurance benefits that were previously unavailable may offer enough incentive to encourage people to seek medical advice. For some, simply labeling it as a disease could be enough of a wake-up call to get them motivated to reverse their condition.
These perceived benefits, however, do not come without drawbacks. One major concern is the possibility that many will turn to prescription drugs to “cure” their obesity rather than adopting healthier habits that are far more sustainable with greater benefits. The multi-billion dollar diet industry already profits tremendously in the area of quick-fix solutions and they stand to gain even more in light of the AMA’s decision.
These concerns are valid and I share the belief that many find the option of exercise and sound nutrition to be overwhelming and leaves them discouraged, but this does not mean that labeling obesity as a disease will halt the efforts of many in the health industry who are working hard to promote wellness and optimal living. The attention garnered from this decision will at the very least, give the public some food for thought and potentially encourage them to be more proactive about their health. That tipping point is the foundation of any sort of tangible change.
What are your thoughts about obesity as an economic issue? Do you think labeling obesity as a disease will have a positive or negative effect on the epidemic? Please share your thoughts!