assessing-adiposity-thumbThe American Medical Association (AMA) has officially labeled obesity as a disease in hopes that it will help change the way the medical community tackles the complex issue.

As it stands, insurance companies generally exclude obesity treatment, which can limit how physicians manage obesity-related conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.  While the AMA’s decision has no legal authority, some hope that medical therapies and procedures such as the lap-band or gastric bypass surgeries will now be included in insurance coverage.

Proponents of the decision contend that treatment for clinically obese patients is not as simple as eating less and exercising more. Physical mechanisms and damage to signaling pathways can make it extremely difficult for people to lose weight. Improving reimbursement for obesity drugs, surgery, and counseling may significantly impact patient outcomes.

Those opposing the decision, including the AMA’s own Council on Science and Public Health, consider the measure to define obesity, the body mass index (BMI), too simplistic and flawed.  They argue people with a BMI above the level defining obesity may be perfectly healthy, while others may have dangerous levels of body fat and metabolic problems.

Others are concerned that the lack of specific symptoms associated with obesity classify it as more of a risk factor for other conditions than a disease in its own right.

Physician’s Weekly wants to know…Will the AMA’s decision influence how you view and manage obesity among your patients? Do you think it will impact insurance coverage?