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Obesity is a Disease – Dr. Boyce’s Thoughts on the AMA’s Recent Classification

weight loss surgery, knoxville TNWith the steady climb in the rate of obesity in the U.S., the American Medical Association recently officially classified the condition as a disease. Dr. Stephen Boyce, our experienced weight loss surgeon, comments on this important decision and how it may change the nation’s approach to healthcare.

What were your thoughts when the AMA first classified obesity as a disease?
I thought it was appropriate that the AMA joined other major medical organizations – including the World Health Organization, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the Obesity Society, and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery – in recognizing obesity as a chronic disease requiring medical management.

Could obesity be genetic?
There have been more than 40 genes linked to obesity identified in humans.

How does obesity being classified as a disease change healthcare and treatment for obese individuals? Is there anything in particular that you would like to see accomplished?
The hope is that it will lead to better access to care of the obese patient. I would like to see weight bias eliminated and have the treatment of obesity be covered like any other chronic illness.

A New York Times article points out that some who do not support the classification do so because they believe declaring obesity as a disease “medicalizes” the condition and would “define one-third of Americans as being ill.” They claim this could lead to less focus on lifestyle changes and more reliance on expensive drugs and surgery. What would your response be to such concerns?
Those concerns reflect a limited understanding of the physiology of obesity. It is well established, for the severely obese individual, that behavioral modification and diet does not produce lasting weight loss.

If you would like more information on obesity treatment options, or if you would like to schedule a consultation at our Knoxville weight loss surgery practice, please contact the New Life Center for Bariatric Surgery today

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