Obesity classified as a disease

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Obesity is no longer just a major public health problem. The American Medical Association says it's a disease. Some people call that classification unnecessary.

"It's self made. You make yourself obese. Every fat person knows how to get think they just can't be bothered," Anghel Angelo said.

Others think society needs this wakeup call.

"People don't want to be fat and there are issues people need to deal with," Melinda Moore said.

Eisenhower Medical Center physician Jeralyn Brossfield says this decision finally puts the appropriate spotlight on obesity, and paves the path to more insurance coverage.  

"With the federal government not yet taking this stand, it's been an impediment to people getting treatment for obesity," Dr. Brossfield said.

The Department for Health and Human Services would have to classify obesity as a disease for us to see major change.
"So for instance under future coverage under the Affordable Care Act, if its not classified as a disease, it wouldn't be eligible for coverage from an insurance standpoint," Dr. Brossfield said.

Medical therapies and procedures like the lap-band or gastric bypass surgeries may now be included in insurance coverage, based on the AMA's decision.

"It at least puts a statement out there so when we look at the federal side of things and they choose what they fund,  this at least makes a statement from the majority of physicians that we think its this important and as severe as a disease," Dr. Brossfield said.

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