Is obesity a disease?

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In June 2013, the American Medical Association formally recognised obesity as a disease itself (rather than a prediction of disease). Now a new joint study, out of the University of Minnesota and the University of Richmond has found that those who understood that they were not only overweight, but had a named condition, tended to see themselves as healthier. And they tended to choose an unhealthier meal. Unfortunately this research shows perhaps by saying obesity is a condition, it is reinforcing dangerous habits – it is almost giving permission to live with unhealthy habits, without trying to improve the outcome.

“Considering that obesity is a crucial public-health issue, a more nuanced understanding of the impact of an ‘obesity is a disease’ message has significant implications for patient-level and policy-level outcomes,” said University of Richmond psychological scientist Crystal Hoyt in a statement.

Ultimately, obesity is a health challenge, that can, with help and support, be overcome.

Follow the journey of 14 candidates who are taking the Longevity WellUp challenge and  over the next nine-months are embarking on a health journey. (Don’t miss our March issue of Longevity where we introduce you to the final 14 candidates – on sale 24 February 2014)

What do you think? Is obesity a disease? Do you think classing it as a disease encourages, or discourages, healthier behaviours?  We would love to hear your views