The American Medical Association, the nation’s largest doctors’ group, recognized obesity as a disease on Tuesday at the organization's annual meeting in Chicago.
Advocates hope that the move will spur insurers to support obesity treatments and doctors to treat the condition more seriously.
“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans,” AMA board member Dr. Patrice Harris said in a statement.
Critics of the decision say obesity doesn’t fit the definitions of a disease and that the measure of obesity, body mass index or BMI, is simplistic and flawed. Advocates argue that whatever the semantics, the designation is necessary for the medical community to take the condition seriously.
“While the adverse health consequences and healthcare costs associated with obesity are generally well-recognized even in absence of a disease label," the proponents within the group believe "that neither provider reimbursement nor research into effective treatments will be adequate until obesity is considered a disease,” the group wrote in a released report of the annual meeting.