The influential with policy-making House of Delegate’s American Medical Association (AMA) officially designated obesity as a disease yesterday– a disease that requires medical treatment and prevention, according to a June 19, 2013 news article, by Maggie Fox “Obesity is a disease, doctors’ group says.”
If obesity now is labeled a disease, it can change how obesity is stigmatized or viewed with medical scrutiny as far as social attitudes and future government policies towards obesity when obesity needs to be treated as a sickness. If society recognizes obesity as an illness, that means a serious, life-shortening disease now affects about one in three Americans and a rising number of Europeans as well. The read-between-the lines effect is for the AMA to influence the government.
The AMA’s goal is to unite physicians nationwide. On the other hand, many super centenarians are overweight and eat almost anything edible without thinking of the consequences. The debate often is between what you eat, how you exercise, and whether genes control whether or not you’ll be predisposed to obesity, whether it’s called a sickness or a result of the standard Western diet and fast-food imagery all around you. Obesity, though, often does lead to inflammation, which in turn may lead to clogged arteries and other diseases.
Overweight, inflamed, but not yet obese?
Some people might say they’re overweight, but not obese, just like some people say they’re old, but not elderly. It’s the connotation rather than the denotation of the meaning of the word. If obesity is a disease, it’s not a condition of moving more weight around. Instead, it’s an issue of fat cells multiplying too fast from something coming either from within or without or both. The reason why obesity is now labeled a disease is because the excess fat cells also secrete excess inflammation-causing chemicals that raise the blood pressure and clog arteries, making the arteries stiffer and more prone to strokes or heart attacks.
Then again, someone could be obese and yet have no genes for heart disease or clogged arteries, based on family history. About six percent of the population can eat almost any diet and not quickly have their arteries fill up, whereas others with the predisposition to quickly fill up the arteries can get the plaque in place early in life by eating the same diet some else eats without those genes, and so a reversal diet, usually vegan is sometimes recommended to clean out the plaque with plant micronutrients and omega 3-fatty acids.
Why label obesity as a disease?
One reason is that it means more money invested by the government and especially huge drug companies to develop more treatments that generate more income to treat the disease of being obese. The goal could be to motivate the government to reimburse obesity treatments.
In turn, employers could be required to pay for obesity treatments for employees. And on the other hand employers would be required to not discriminate on the basis of how many pounds someone weighed. For example, there has been talk of various airlines charging passenger fees based on someone’s weight, with the overweight paying more than thin people for a seat.
Another goal of declaring obesity a disease is that pills or other medicines would be developed to treat obesity. The reality is that the huge pharmaceutical giant firms so far have not approved many drugs for simply losing weight.
Even those medicines don’t really cause people to go from obese to normal weight without a change in diet and lifestyle, which can be done without the drugs. Other people get their stomachs stapled or banded to prevent them from eating too much food, if they can’t tolerate a raw-food, low-sugar vegan diet for a few months to lose the weight or a Paleo, lower-carbohydrate diet, or whatever else works with their genes to normalize weight.
Society is about high-calorie food, lots of sitting, and low physical activity
With so many people driving cars instead of walking and so few streets with sidewalks, Sacramento itself is a low-physical-activity, high-calorie, high-food-variety environment with in some areas a fast-food eatery every two blocks. Examples in Sacramento are Marconi Avenue with fast-food eateries every few blocks and El Camino Avenue with fast-food eateries in shopping malls and along the street, especially at intersections such as Marconi and Fulton, Marconi at Eastern Avenue, and Watt and El Camino, where you have a handful of fast-food eateries along the street and more in the shopping malls.
Designating obesity as a disease sets up policymakers to make changes based on safety and health. Yet few policymakers are blaming bread as starchy fillers mostly made of wheat that increase insulin levels at most eateries that serve huge portions of bread and very little vegetables inside compared to the volume of the bread on the outside of the sandwich, including rolls, buns, and other filling foods. The inside of the sandwiches also are smeared with high-calorie, high-fat, or high-salt dressings.
Policymakers look for research that proves obesity causes disease
First comes the research proving that obesity causes diseases. On the other hand, you have thin people on the outside with clogged arteries and heart disease on the inside, including metabolic syndrome. You have people with very thin legs, thighs, arms, and chests with a protruding belly and high blood pressure, where weight is gained mostly or only in the abdomen, and the arteries quickly get clogged (metabolic syndrome and/or insulin resistance).
You also find people obese all over or overweight who have normal blood pressure and no signs of heart disease because they don’t have the genetic predisposition. For example, women athletes who weigh over 200 pounds but spend their days working out with athletics.
The question is whether obesity really is a disease or is it more like obesity can cause diseases? Smoking was declared by the U.S. Surgeon-General that smoking could cause disease, but smoking wasn’t a disease by itself. Is obesity a disease, or can it cause a disease? Now that obesity has been declared a disease, like addiction, it opens the door for a possibility of new taxes and restrictions on any food that increases obesity, just like the taxes on tobacco and restrictions on who can buy cigarettes.
What are the outcomes of declaring obesity a disease that will move the government to make changes and new laws?
The outcome did see smoking rates go down from what it was in 1950 to current times. The figures are today, 18 percent of smokers, compared to 40 percent of smokers in the 1960s. Back in the 1940s and 1950s, it seemed that in Hollywood movies, almost every adult held a cigarette while speaking, sitting, waiting, or sometimes even while driving. You have all types of changes in traffic laws and other measures for safety.
What policies will be developed to reduce obesity, now that it’s all of a sudden, a disease? Wasn’t it always a disease? Or is it a product of too much available low-quality foods pushed at people from images in the media, on TV, and all around of huge photos of high-calorie foods? Will the government eventually be influenced by the AMA’s labeling of obesity as a disease? If so, what changes are likely to be ahead?
After all, you don’t see many media or TV food images of a raw foods vegan diet? No, you’ll see pictures of burgers, fries, sandwiches, BBQ, roasted meats, and large restaurant portions of starchy fillers or lots of ice cream and cakes, doughnuts, and bread products, everything industry uses in just the right proportions of fat, sugar, and salt to make you come back for more of the same.
Check out the sites, “Salt, Sugar and Fat: Could You Be Addicted? | The Dr. Oz Show,” “Dr. Oz’ guest Michael Moss explains why you crave food in book: Salt, Sugar, Fat,” and “How The Food Industry Manipulates Taste Buds With ‘Salt Sugar Fat.”