U.S. Doctors' Group Labels Obesity a Disease

Advocates say AMA's move will boost resources to fight weight-gain epidemic, but others question decision

HealthDay SHARE

He thinks obesity treatments deserve insurance coverage.

During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States, with more than one-third of adults (35.7 percent) and approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and teens considered obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight, the CDC said.

Blacks have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity -- 49.5 percent -- followed by Mexican Americans (40.4 percent), all Hispanics (39 percent) and whites (34 percent).

Among children and teens, the obesity prevalence since 1980 has almost tripled. There are significant racial and ethnic disparities in obesity rates among children. Hispanic boys are significantly more likely to be obese than white boys, and black girls are significantly more likely to be obese than white girls, the CDC said.

Obesity and overweight are labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what are considered healthy for a given height.

For adults, obesity and overweight are determined by using weight and height to calculate your body mass index, or BMI. An adult with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, while someone with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

Someone who is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs between 125 pounds and 168 pounds has a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9, which is considered healthy. That same person who weighs between 169 and 202 pounds has a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9, which is considered overweight. And if he or she weighs more than 203 pounds, they have a BMI of 30 or higher -- considered obese.

More information

For more on obesity, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.