Is obesity a disease?
UK Doctors defined Obesity As a Disease
In the UK, doctors are discussing whether obesity should be explained as a disease. What speaks for it – and what against it.
About every second adult in the USA is overweight. And nearly one in six is obese – with a body mass index above 30. Are all these people sick?
In the current “BMJ,” John Wilding of the University of Liverpool, along with Vicki Mooney, President of the European Association for the Study of Obesity(EASO), advocates that the British also officially consider obesity a disease in the future.
“Not the fault of the individual”
Therefore, they consider it a fundamentally wrong approach that overweight people alone should be responsible for losing weight. “If we recognize obesity as a chronic disease, it should help to make overweight people less stigmatized and discriminated,” they write. The two assume that more sufferers would get involved in treatment if overweight was defined as a disease.
In the “BMJ” the general practitioner Richard Pile contradicts you. He can not imagine that the new definition would have positive effects. Neither would fat people, as soon as they hear the news, suddenly start off enthusiastically for a quick walk. Health experts would still be facing the foreboding of knowledge in a moment and shouting, ‘This changes everything!’ “He writes.
“Would Benefit Pharmaceutical Companies”
Pile instead fears possible negative consequences. If one were to see being overweight as a disease, as dictated by genetics, it could deprive sufferers of the motivation to tackle it. He warns that the only beneficiaries of the change would be pharmaceutical companies and doctors selling drugs or performing surgeries. So far, however, there are hardly any drugs that may help overweight people lose weight.
Wilding, who advocates recognition as a disease, lists a good dozen or so pharmaceutical companies in the BMJ’s disclosure of potential conflicts of interest, among which he has received lecture fees. Pile, on the other hand, is involved in a company that wants to help people through coaching, among other things. However, due to these conflicts of interest, the arguments of the pro side should not be put aside.
Fight overweight as you fight infections
In fact, the discussion about whether being overweight should be considered a disease, even older. In 2017, for example, the journal “The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology” published an editorial demanding that overweight be recognized as an illness. The text was based on a position paper of the World Obesity Federation.
In the end, the solution is probably between the two positions – and whether overweight is defined as a disease or not is the most important issue. Because if more people should manage not to become overweight or lose weight, both are needed: both social change and personal motivation.