Obesity is a Disease: Is Treatment Working?
Almost four years ago, the American Medical Association (AMA) classified obesity as a disease. The purpose of doing so was to increase awareness in physicians and push insurance companies to cover healthcare costs related to obesity. Understandably so, but was it the right move? Are we seeing any improvement in the rate of obesity in the country?
Given the growing comparison of our lives now versus our lives before the invasion of the internet and smartphones, it’s hard to believe that we are truly combating the issue of obesity. Thirty years ago, kids grew up in neighborhoods where they all ran around playing football, playing in playgrounds, and biked or walked everywhere they wanted to go. These days, kids are living by a calendar with scheduled play dates and are less likely to run outside and work up a sweat. Most kids end up sitting in front of a laptop, smartphone, or television.
Now when people are feeling the effects of a sedentary life, or obesity, they get gym memberships and hope that it’s enough to encourage them to change their ways. Doctors are monitoring people’s weight and pressuring them to lose some. What happens to the many who can’t see a doctor to be pressured? There is also a rise in surgeries that makes our stomachs smaller and force us to eat in healthier ways. But what happens if you don’t have access to healthcare insurance?
Are the efforts working? Yes. We have seen a decrease in obesity since the AMA classified it as a disease in 2013. Can more be done? Absolutely! By taking the time to encourage more health-positive activities, pharmacists could even keep obesity at bay. Directing patients to walk in groups is a good start. Getting people moving, even at a slow walk, does wonders for the body and mentally stimulates our patients into wanting to get up and move. Posters advertising free workouts in the park or sliding scale yoga sessions are another way to get people excited and curious about moving. Hosting a Q&A with local yogis or personal trainers can get the knowledge out about events in the area and get your patients moving.
Obesity is a health challenge that can be overcome by many people. It starts by moving more and socializing more for positive mental health. Medicines and surgeries may still be needed, but it will be easier on the patients in the long run!