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Obesity Now Called a Disease

June 24, 2013
Plain English Version

What does it take to be obese? Scientists say you are obese when your body weight is 20 percent or more of your ideal body weight. For a man who is 5 feet 8 inches tall, the ideal body weight is between 140 to 172 pounds. He is obese when he weighs between 168 to nearly 200 pounds. The difference depends on the kind of body he has.

For a woman who is 5 feet 4 inches tall, the ideal weight is between 114 and 151 pounds. She is obese when she weighs between 136 and 181 pounds, again depending on the type of body she has.

Now the American Medical Association (AMA) says obesity is a disease. While this does not change the way the way obesity is treated, it does have the effect of encouraging the health profession to take it more seriously.

The committee that was looking into the issue for the AMA did not reach the same conclusion. They said obesity is a risk factor leading to diseases such as diabetes, and is not a disease in itself. They also said this new definition could lead to one-third of the nation being defined as ill.

The argument goes back and forth. Meanwhile, diet and exercise – the two main ways to control weight – are also being reconsidered. Everybody agrees that a good diet and regular exercise improve health. But do they really help lose weight and keep it off over a long period? Most people who lose weight usually regain most of it.

Scientists are now saying the brain works to maintain a weight that is right for the individual.  The programs that promote healthy eating, including not drinking sugary sodas, may not work.

Changes in our life-styles, such as getting off the couch, are healthy, but probably will not help you lose weight. One area of interest is the diet and nutrition of pregnant women. Women who eat little while pregnant often have children who become fat as adults. Smoking is also associated with heavy children.

Whether obesity is a disease or not, or whether you diet and exercise, until we learn more about obesity, the struggle with weight will continue.

Source: The New York Times

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