Big news (sad that we have to wait for the AMA sometimes) in the medical world was released today - the AMA (American Medical Association) has officially voted to classify obesity as a disease.
What does this mean? Bottom line - it should become easier for patients to get nutritional counseling, help with weight loss and even bariatric surgery if all else has failed (please note, I do not believe that bariatric surgery should ever be the quick easy solution and should not be considered unless all else has truly not worked).
For all of my years in practice - the number one concern has always been weight loss, but, due to insurance companies policies, I could not "treat" patient for weight loss. Premera was the only local insurance company that would allow me to offer patients 6 sessions of nutritional counseling to help with diet, but often needed an additional diagnosis of high blood pressure or diabetes. This made it frustrating for patients who wanted to lose weight to prevent such disease states as they were denied care by their insurance companies (of course they would pay out of pocket, but why would you want to do that if you had good insurance?)
Based on articles the direct cost of obesity is estimated to be over $535 billion a year! Yes, you read that correctly, 535 billion. The hopes by this change in disease classification is that this cost will decrease as people begin to experience healthier lifestyles and lives.
The one concern is that this will become a crutch for some overweight individuals and using this new "disease" as a reason for their weight issues, rather than working towards improving their health.
As with any changes, this is going to be a wait and see time frame - physicians and patients will have to wait and see if insurance companies do change their policies on covering nutritional counseling or weight loss support. My personal hope is that they will, and quickly! As a country with over 35% of its' population considered obese, it is time for a change.
At Rainier Natural Health Clinic, we offer several different types of lifestyle courses and weight management programs. If you are interested in learning about them, please call the office (360-829-1838).
Remember, weight loss is not a quick fix - it is a lifestyle change that will help you lose weight, feel great and live a more active, healthy life!