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AMA Recognizes Obesity As A Disease

Naureen Nayyar

Chicago, IL- On June 18th, 2013, the American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates at their annual policy meeting, voted for a resolution recognizing obesity as a disease, going against the AMA’s own Council on Science and Public Health’s recommendation. The group of about 225,000 US doctors, also made other recommendations of moving Americans and physicians towards a healthier state of being. The recognition was covered by numerous news agencies and considered a major shift that will help with combatting the United States' obesity problems.

In an interview for USAToday, Patrice Harris, an AMA board member, said in a statement, "Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans."2

The leading news in the AMA Morning Rounds newsletter on Wednesday proclaimed that obesity had finally been recognized as a disease. What does this new recognition mean for the health industry, food regulations and future of health research?  The meeting addendum included AMA policies that are related to this new resolution.  The addendum listed about twenty-five policies and goals for AMA for addressing the obesity epidemic.  Some of the major policy goals were: improvement of food options for primary and secondary schools, educating the public about the FDA MedWatch program, more collaboration between CDC (Center for Disease Control) and other groups to solve the problems around obesity, collaboration about funding and research for combating this disease, and an adoption of a universal exercise database, which would serve as "an independent meta-database of evidence-based exercise guidelines to assist physicians and other health professionals in making exercise prescriptions".  One of the AMA policies around this recognition was the tax on beverages with added sweeteners, which was listed under H-150.933 in in the addendum.  The AMA also asked for a temporary ban on youth marketing for soft drinks, and urged employees and workers to find alternatives to sitting workstations for long hours of desk work. Overall, it was a critical step for the organization in dealing with a disease that has been considered by many to be the root of many American health problems.

You can find the addendum at this link and also read this article by LATimes discussing the policy around sitting, and more links at the AMA Morning Rounds newsletter.

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