Obesity Is a Disease

Mar 15, 2016

Obesity Is a Disease

The American Medical Association voted to classify obesity as a disease, making treatment easier and more accessible for millions of overweight Americans.

Previously, obesity was deemed a “major public health issue” by the AMA, but a vote on Tuesday changed its status to a disease.

“Obesity rates have doubled among adults in the last twenty years and tripled among children in a single generation,” the AMA said in a report. “Evidence suggests that by 2040 roughly half the adult population may be obese.”

The disease classification will allow patients to be reimbursed by insurance companies for treatment, be referred to specialists, and get access to other resources like weight-loss programs.

“Physicians weren’t doing a good job counseling patients because they couldn’t  bill people or refer them to specialists because it wasn’t covered,” said Esa Davis, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine and obesity researcher at the University of Pittsburgh. “We’ve tried to address it different ways, such as referring them for hypertension or heart disease, but for obese patients who do not yet have other conditions, it’s been difficult to get them treated.”

Though some people may believe that obesity is a self-inflicted condition, the AMA ultimately disagreed, saying it would be like “not calling lung cancer a disease because it was brought about by individual choice to smoke cigarettes.”

Laughing Gas Doesn’t Increase Heart Attack Risk

Laughing gas, also known as nitrous oxide, doesn’t increase a patient’s risk of heart attack, according to a new study.

Researchers gave laughing gas to 500 surgery patients with heart attack risk factors. Some were given IV vitamin B12 and folic acid to maintain their levels of homocysteine, which can increase the chances of a heart attack. Others were not given any supplements, and there was no difference in the heart attack risk between the two groups.

“There were no differences between the groups with regard to heart attack risk,” said lead author Peter Nagele, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology and genetics, in a press release. “The B vitamins kept homocysteine levels from rising, but that didn’t influence heart attack risk.”

Though laughing gas may not be dangerous to the heart, recent studies have shown that general anesthesia ups the chances for dementia and other memory problems.