The Great Debate: Is Obesity Really a Disease? (2023)

The Great Debate: Is Obesity Really a Disease? (1)

Part of the answer to why obesity is considered a disease lies in the fact that there is more to obesity than meets the eye. Much more.

supporters say:

  • Obesity is a disease because it is influenced by many factors, many of which are beyond the control of the individual.
  • Obesity is a disease because it exhibits the classic signs, symptoms, complications, and etiologies of chronic disease, a long-standing condition with lasting effects on an individual's health.

As a chronic disease, obesity should not be treated any differently. People with obesity should see a doctor and ask about treatment options. Skeptics, on the other hand, believe a number of myths about obesity. They discuss:

  • Obesity is a lifestyle choice and the result of how much you eat and how little you exercise.

Saying that obesity is a disease allows people to apologize and not take responsibility for their actions. This type of misinformation and stigma affects the way society thinks about obesity and affects the way it should be treated.

Why is obesity a chronic disease?

In January 2019, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) recognized obesity as a disease. A chronic but manageable disease, influenced not only by our genes, but also by the modern environment in which we live. according to Dr. Andrew Goddard "It is not a lifestyle choice caused by individual greed, but a disease caused by genetic inequities, health influences and social factors." Despite this recognition, the debate about why obesity is a disease continued and the reactions in the British media were strong.

The science of why obesity is a disease

Around the world, similar expert working groups came to the same conclusion, often leading to heated debate in the media. Obesity is still largely misunderstood as a lifestyle choice, influenced by how much food you eat and how little exercise you get. In fact, most people living with obesity have many reasons for their weight. The science is clear that obesity is not just the result of poor decisions.

In fact, obesity is a disease that:

  • It puts people at high risk of developing or worsening other serious health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnea, certain cancers, anxiety, and depression.
  • It changes the way the body responds to treatments. What worked before may not work anymore.
  • It is constantly strengthened by our everyday environment.
  • It affects people for life.

Although obesity is a disease with serious health consequences, people with obesity seldom seek professional medical help, believing they have to deal with it on their own.

Fortunately, more and more healthcare professionals are recognizing the complexities of obesity and are learning how they can help. Your treatment options toolbox is also growing and is constantly being updated. Today, obesity is a disease with treatment options including behavioral therapy, individualized nutrition therapy, weight-loss medications, and bariatric surgery. Modern obesity control goes beyond what you eat and how much you exercise. It's about understanding individual eating habits (how, when, and why you eat), as well as patterns of mood, sleep, stress, and physical activity. A personalized treatment plan will likely require a combination of different treatment options to meet your needs.

The Great Debate: Is Obesity Really a Disease? (2)

Obesity is a disease with renewed hope for better health

Being overweight is not the only reason why obesity is a disease. Stigma, shame, and low self-esteem are the unseen consequences that plague people living with obesity on a daily basis.

As misinformation and stigma continue to affect social understanding of obesity, more health professionals are beginning to recognize obesity as a chronic disease, a condition that requires medical attention and possibly treatment.

The good news is that obesity is a manageable disease, and even small changes can improve your overall health and well-being. A weight loss of just five percent is enough to reduce the risk of many weight-related health complications, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.

Currently, there are several treatment options to treat overweight and obesity. To lose weight and keep it off in a healthy way, it is important to recognize that obesity is a chronic disease. talk to a weight control specialistabout the proper treatment.

  • Royal College of Physicians. Obesity must be recognized as a disease. Board document 2018.
  • Royal College of Physicians. The PCR calls for obesity to be recognized as a disease. CPR London News 2019.
    Disease recognized by obesity [Consulted in June 2019]
  • European Medicines Agency. Draft guideline for the clinical evaluation of medications for weight control 2014.
  • Food and medication management. Guide for the industry that develops products for weight control, 2007.
  • Heuer CA, McClure KJ, and Puhl RM. Obesity stigma in online news: a visual content analysis. Health Communication Magazine 2001; 16:976-987.
  • Guh et al. The incidence of comorbidities associated with obesity and overweight: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health 2009; 9:88.
  • Lupino et al. Depression and obesity: a meta-analysis of community studies. ArchGen Psychiatry 2010; 67:220-9.
  • Sumithran P & Proietto J. The defense of body weight: a physiological basis for weight gain after weight loss. Clinical Science 2013; 124:231-241.
  • National Institute of Health. Clinical guidelines for the detection, evaluation and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults 1988.
  • Rand K et al. It's not the diet; It's the mental part we need help with. A multilevel analysis of psychological, emotional and social well-being in obesity. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Health and Well-being 2017; 12:1-14.
  • Yumuk V et al. European guidelines for the control of obesity in adults. Obesity Data 2015; 8:402-424.
  • Warkentin et al. The effect of weight loss on health-related quality of life: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Rev Superior 2014;
  • Berthoud H., Munzberg H., and Morrison, CD. Blame the brain for obesity. Gastroenterology 2017; 152(7):1728-1738.
  • Astrup A. Dietary management of overweight and obesity. In: Thomas A. Wadden and George A. Bray (eds.). Obesity management manual. NY:
    Guilford Press 2018: 309-321.
  • Caterson ID et al. Gaps to overcome: misalignment between perception, reality and interventions in obesity. Diabetes Obesity Metab 2019; 21(8): 1914-1924.


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