Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

Rudd Radar

American Medical Association Recognizes Obesity as a Disease

June 19, 2013

The American Medical Association (AMA), the nation’s largest organization of doctors, has officially designated obesity as a disease that requires medical treatment and prevention. The classification could change the way doctors and insurance companies treat and cover obese patients.

"The AMA's decision is an important step forward, and recognizes obesity as a serious and chronic condition that must be addressed as a priority for treatment in the medical field," said Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Rudd Center Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives.

"Overall, this is a positive change because it will provide much needed resources and attention to the topic of obesity, said Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Rudd Center Acting Director. “At the same time, it is important to remember that BMI alone does not tell the whole story about any one individual's health status. Health professionals will still need to assess diet quality and physical fitness to determine treatment recommendations for each patient who has a BMI in the obese range."

According to the AMA, obesity rates in the United States have "doubled among adults in the last twenty years and tripled among children in a single generation" and that the World Health Organization, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Internal Revenue Service already recognize the condition as a disease.