Obesity treatment could improve with 'disease' classification - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Obesity treatment could improve with 'disease' classification

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Obesity is a problem weighing heavily on the minds of healthcare professionals for years. Now the American Medical Association has labeled the condition a disease.

The AMA decided to call obesity a disease Tuesday at their annual meeting in Chicago.

Doctors in Las Vegas say the decision could mean big changes in how obesity is treated in the United States.

Dr. Daliah Wachs says dieting and training at the gym doesn't work for everybody thanks to differences in genetics, ethnicity or hormones. That's why she says the new label on obesity is a huge step for healthcare.

"It tells medical providers and patients that this is something that will hurt you if not fixed," said Wachs, who lists heart disease, stroke, diabetes and sleep apnea as some of the symptoms of obesity.

She says the change could mean insurance companies may start covering obesity treatment including doctor visits, bariatric surgeries and, maybe one day, medication.

"There's diabetic medications, blood pressure medications. Not a lot of people are working on obese medications and obese research," said Dr. Wachs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 30% of American adults and almost as many children are considered obese. This is defined by their body mass index, a number determined by a person's height and weight.

Dr. Wachs says treating the disease instead of its symptoms could save Americans billions of dollars long term, but a lot of questions still need to be answered. Wachs questions how much treatment insurance companies will cover and which patients they will cover.

Personal Trainer Dustin Richter sees things a little differently. He's been helping people run, lift and sweat their ways to healthy bodies for years. He recognizes that some people have conditions that make losing weight difficult but thinks the majority of people are just lazy.

"It seems that laziness is the overriding factor, and people just too lazy to cook, too lazy to eat properly, too lazy to work out," Richter said. He believes anyone can overcome obesity, whether or not it's considered a disease.

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