Should Child Obesity be Seen as a Disease?

Kid with Child Obesity Issues

At Sandoval Freestyle Karate, we champion the idea of getting kids involved in fun physical activities that help them develop communication skills, respect for others, and good eating habits. We believe this is a combination that can help children grow into fit and healthy adults. This is certainly necessary, because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has risen by 100% in children and 200% in adolescents in the last 30 years. The CDC also agrees with our assertion that physical activity and healthy eating lowers the risk of obesity.

A Landmark Decision

The American Medical Association (AMA) has decided that obesity in adults and children should officially be classed as a disease. With the rising tide of obesity in the United States, it is hoped that this decision will cause physicians to be more attentive to the issue and also cause insurers to pay more for treatments. According to Dr. Patrice Harris, a member of the AMA board, recognition of obesity as a disease will alter the way medical communities approach this particular issue. She also believes that the new definition of obesity will significantly reduce instances of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

However, as there is no universal definition of what a ‘disease’ actually is, it could be said that it’s all an issue of semantics. Additionally, the AMA decision doesn’t have any legal authority. What this landmark decision will do is focus a greater deal of attention on obesity and almost certainly lead to an influx of new medication designed to treat the problem. Indeed this process has already begun with Belviq and Qsymia introduced into the market within the last 12 months. Belviq was only introduced in early June, so it remains to be seen if it is successful since Qsymia has been something of a flop.

Is it the Right Decision?

The Obesity Society has wanted this decision to be made since 2008, while the IRS allows obesity treatments to qualify for tax deductions. Yet the Council on Science and Public Health say obesity should not be classified as a disease since the criteria used to measure it are flawed. In its opinion, Body Mass Index (BMI) is far too simplistic and ignores too many individual factors. It probably has a point and it could be argued that body fat percentage is a much better measurement.

It remains to be seen whether this is the right decision, but we should be worried that it will only make things worse. Instead of encouraging adults, but most importantly children, to exercise and eat healthily, people who are classified as obese may rely on medication and surgery rather than lifestyle changes. This is inherently wrong and will certainly not increase a person’s standard of living and health.

What We Know

Admittedly, losing weight is not always a simple matter of exercising more and eating less, but for millions of people, this is precisely what needs to be done. Obviously, the reasons for being obese range from person to person, but we believe that medication should be seen as a final option instead of the initial solution. It is also imperative that children are taught better eating and exercise habits, otherwise childhood obesity will continue to plague this proud nation, as we encourage ‘the easy way out,’ instead of the right way.

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