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Obesity As A Disease: Both Sides Of This Debate

Is obesity a disease? There’s already an ongoing debate surrounding this topic, but before you take a side, read about the different arguments stated below.

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In this article:

  1. The American Medical Association Classifying Obesity as a Disease
  2. Obesity Is a Disease
  3. Obesity Should Not Be a Disease
  4. Leading Obesity Causes 
    1. Genetics
    2. Highly Processed Foods
    3. Addiction to Food
    4. Insulin Resistance
    5. Some Medications
    6. Added Sugar
    7. Physical Inactivity
  5. Your Opinion Matters

Is Obesity a Disease?: What You Should Know

The American Medical Association Classifying Obesity as a Disease

Recently, the American Medical Association (AMA) classified obesity as a disease. This has sent ripples into our culture as the AMA has thrown the gauntlet and is forcing us to look at this issue.

We all know that being overweight and obese are huge medical problems and lead to many life-threatening diseases costing us a fortune in healthcare expenses. But, is obesity a disease per se?

Let’s look at some arguments on both sides of this debate.

Obesity Is a Disease

A woman measures her stomach with a tape measure.

Obesity Should Not Be a Disease

What is bariatric surgery? This is a surgical procedure on the stomach to help with weight loss, especially for people who are obese. The surgery can either restrict the amount of food the stomach can hold or shorten a part of the small intestine to reduce the calories the body can absorb.

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Leading Obesity Causes

A man pinches his stomach while working out at the gym.

Because weight gain is one of the leading health problems worldwide, it’s also important to break down the major causes of obesity. This will help us better understand the root cause of this condition.

1. Genetics

As mentioned previously, genetics play a crucial role in obese people. Obesity in children happens when their parents are obese and they are more likely to become overweight or obese themselves.

But, this does not mean obesity is predetermined. Only that genetic components significantly affect a person’s susceptibility to becoming obese or risk of obesity.

2. Highly Processed Foods

These types of foods, usually junk foods, are often made of refined ingredients with additives, so the products can last long on the shelf, be cheap, and have a good taste. Enhancing the flavor, for example, already contains ingredients that can contribute to weight gain, such as excessive salt.

These foods are also low in fiber, which can provide negative health effects. Individuals who eat high amounts of fiber have a healthier body mass index than those who consume low amounts.

Aside from that, the lack of fiber in the body over time can increase the possibility of hemorrhoids and colon cancer.

3. Addiction to Food

This major cause is related to the previous one — making people addicted to food. Weight gain happens fast when people frequently eat high-fat, sugar-sweetened junk foods primarily because of its good flavor.

Addiction to food can also occur when food availability near you is mostly junk foods or high-processed foods. People who are busy typically find it convenient to order highly processed meals from fast food chains.

This can lead to addiction as well because foods in these places have too much flavor which attracts customers. Naturally, people will have their own favorites and this makes them crave for more food.

Food addiction can make people lose control over their eating behavior, just like those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs.

4. Insulin Resistance

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that lets the body use glucose for energy or store glucose for future use. The problem occurs when insulin resistance happens because the cells in the liver, muscles, and body fat tissue do not respond to insulin properly.

As this condition develops, your body’s response in fighting back insulin resistance is to release more insulin. The beta cells in the pancreas that work so hard to produce insulin may not be able to keep up with the demand over time.

This can lead you to develop type 2 diabetes if it keeps going. You may also suffer from a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that’s also linked to insulin resistance, which can raise your risk of heart disease and liver damage.

5. Some Medications

Some medications can also lead to obesity as a side effect. Antidepressants, for example, are associated with weight gain.

These drugs do not affect your willpower though. What they may do is increase your appetite or reduce metabolic rate.

6. Added Sugar

Added sugar in processed foods is a huge risk factor for people gaining weight and those with high blood sugar levels. It primarily alters the biochemistry and hormones of your body if you eat it excessively, resulting in weight gain.

Sugar is half fructose and half glucose, and excess fructose can lead to insulin resistance, which can lead to weight gain.

7. Physical Inactivity

An overweight woman stands on a sidewalk.

Lack of physical activity is another cause of obesity. As more and more people find convenience in living a sedentary lifestyle, the benefits of exercise are thrown to the sideline.

Not only that, physical inactivity is considered to be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular risk and other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

Your Opinion Matters

The arguments mentioned above are just some main bullet points for each side of this debate. There are obviously many more as the issue is complex, personal, and heated.

We’d like to hear from you.

What do you think about this? Let’s have a dialogue about this and see if we can tease out some points.

This issue affects all of us, and it’s important to know it will take a concerted effort to resolve it. Attaching a diagnosis to a word doesn’t fix the problem.

If it did, complications like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer would be things of the past. It directs our attention to the issue, but the real question to you is how do we solve this?

Should obesity be a diagnosis? Watch our discussion to learn more:

Based on the two sides of the argument, is obesity a disease for you? Whether it is or not, obesity is still a health concern people should take seriously as it can lead to a chronic disease like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

If you’re concerned with your weight right now, it’s best to visit a nutritionist or a physician to guide you with your diet and weight loss journey.

Are you constantly gaining weight and want to lose some extra pounds? Which type of diet or training program are you following? Share your experience in the comments section.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 24, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.