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AMA votes to classify obesity as a disease

By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: June 18, 2013 - 5:30 pm ET

Despite concerns that doing so will “medicalize” a condition that affects up to one-third of the nation, the American Medical Association House of Delegates at its annual meeting in Chicago approved a resolution to recognize obesity as a disease.

Delegates voted 276-181 (60.4% to 39.6%) to classify obesity as “a disease state with multiple pathophysiological aspects requiring a range of interventions.”

The issue had been debated before one of eight reference committee meetings on Sunday before being brought up for a vote Tuesday morning.

The reference committee, chaired by Dr. Douglas Martin, an occupational medicine specialist from Sioux City, Iowa, gave the resolution a positive endorsement and noted that it had heard “significant, mixed testimony” about the potential implications regarding employment, life insurance coverage, disability, workers' compensation, weight bias, insurer responsibility, physician reimbursement and diagnostic and procedure coding.

“After lengthy discussion, your reference committee concluded that the ramifications of obesity warrant a paradigm shift in the way the medical community tackles this complicated issue,” the reference committee report stated.

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks

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