Obesity is now it's a disease, according to the American Medical Association, considered the voice of America's doctors.
Some local doctors and who work with the obese are applauding the action, and predicting it will lead to better insurance coverage for weight loss counseling, drugs and surgery, while others worry it might cause people to expect a medical cure for a condition that is often best addressed by behavior changes.
Dr. Ann Rogers, the head of surgical weight loss at Penn State-Hershey, compared it to the recognition of alcoholism as a disease, which she said caused more people to seek treatment and made treatment easier to obtain.
She further expects the declaration will reduce stigma associated with obesity, including perceptions that it's mostly the result of lack of willpower. "There is definitely a huge genetic and biological basis for obesity. It is not just lifestyle issues," she said.
The federal government hasn't taken steps needed to assure that weight loss surgery and weight management, although covered by Medicare, will be covered by all coverage available through the Affordable Care Act. The hope is that the AMA action will lead to federal acknowledgement of obesity as a chronic disease that should be fully covered.