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Is Obesity A Disease?

Aug 17, 2007
Do you find obesity to be a disease? The way you answer to this could have cascading result in different sphere of life. But first what is a disease? A disease is a medical condition of abnormality that causes discomfort, dysfunction, distress, death etc.

Some quarters view that by officially classifying obesity as a disease, it will allow room to mitigate the problem more effectively. For starters people suffering from obesity will be less stigmatized and will be more willing to accept their state and seek help.

They further consider that the necessary agencies will be availed with more resources to develop, research and look for effective ways to mitigate the problem.

In contrast another group thinks obesity should not be classified as a disease. Calorie consumption is completely an individual's prerogative and we cannot spend the money in solving problems due to poor decision making by individuals.

Many have gone to the extent of likening obesity to known diseases like lung cancer, and AIDS. Both of these stem mainly out of poor lifestyle choices. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. AIDS on the other hand is one of the most rampant epidemic in the world particularly Africa. Poor lifestyle choices in both cases, just like with obesity is the perpetrator.

But a thorough look into this argument shows gapping holes. First and foremost, it is the lung cancer that is the disease and not smoking. So research resources are thrown into lung cancer research and medication. Similarly with AIDS, resources are lumped into the vaccines and anti-retroviral. It should be noted that smoking in itself is not a disease though it could lead to long cancer. Neither is having unprotected casual sex a disease though it is the primary means of getting infected with the HIV virus that leads to AIDS.

Likewise the state of obesity, we may argue is not a disease. However this state and the lifestyle that promotes it, just like smoking or casual sex, can lead to disease. Indeed there are cases of extreme obesity i.e. BMIs of over 40 that do not exhibit any of the comorbid factors associated with obesity.Generally obesity is accompanied with hypertension, sleep apnea and osteoporosis just to mention a few.

On the other hand, obesity seems to fit the definition of a disease even without the associated risks. It causes discomfort dysfunction, distress and can lead to death.

So what do you think is obesity a disease?
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