American Medical Association recognizes obesity as a disease

Published: Wednesday, June 19 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Two overweight women hold a conversation, Tuesday, June 26, 2012 in New York.

Mark Lennihan, Associated Press

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During the American Medical Association's annual meeting Tuesday, the nation's largest physician organization decided to recognize obesity as a disease rather than a "major public health problem," opening the door to changing how the medical community tackles the issue.

"The American Medical Association's recognition that obesity is a disease carries a lot of clout," Samuel Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis., told USA Today. "The most important aspect of the AMA decision is that the AMA is a respected representative of American medicine. Their opinion can influence policy makers who are in a position to do more to support interventions and research to prevent and treat obesity."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of U.S. adults and 17 percent of children and teens are obese. In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated to be $147 billion, or $1,429 higher than medical costs for people of normal weight.

RTI International has predicted that if obesity continues to grow, 42 percent of Americans may be obese by 2030.

Read more about AMA and obesity on USA Today.

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