“Obesity is a disease, not a decision.”
I recently saw these words on a billboard and it immediately struck a chord with me. In my opinion obesity is NOT a disease. Cancer is a disease. And yet, this summer the American Medical Association voted to name obesity as a disease.
Love this quote on the subject from KevinMD.com:
“So a person with a BMI in the obese category who is otherwise completely healthy and happy is now sick. And the person who has sleep apnea, diabetes, high blood pressure, and poor circulation from a lifetime of doughnuts and pizza is also sick, but it’s not his fault, because he has a disease. Wow. That ought to be a load off a lot of peoples minds. Once you allow people to assume the sick role, personal responsibility tends to fade away.”
Fall 2011, right before I lost weight.
I think that is the danger in the “disease” diagnosis. I’ve never been obese; but I have been overweight. I knew I wasn’t diseased or slightly diseased or even mildly ill. I knew I was making crappy eating decisions and sporadically exercising. I knew my jeans were tight and I was rocking a muffin top. I kept making excuses for my decisions and I kept whining about it. Eventually, I got sick of it. I was tired of being that unhappy person. I called my mom, signed up with her for Weight Watchers, and started making changes. It took 6 months, but I lost the weight and have kept it off because I wake up each day and decide to live a healthy life.
I believe small decisions over time will lead to obesity, but in the same way small decisions over time can lead to a fit and healthy life. I’m not saying it’s easy–conquering obesity and food related disorders in incredibly difficult but it is something with professional and personal help, support and encouragement that can be overcome.
Maybe in a small way I feel like calling obesity a disease minimizes the efforts I made to lose weight and I make every day to stay healthy.
The only possible silver lining is that this label may help people take obesity more seriously and make it easier for some to seek help and services. Please don’t read me wrong….I’m not saying this to hate on people who struggle with obesity or because I’m a mean spirited person. I actually love helping people, and I especially love helping people make healthier life choices. And I believe it is actually more hope-filled and empowering to NOT embrace the disease model of obesity.
But that’s just me.
What are your thoughts?