US doctor group votes to recognise obesity as a disease

CHICAGO (REUTERS) - In order to fight what it described as an "obesity epidemic", the American Medical Association (AMA) voted on Tuesday to recognise obesity as a disease and recommended a number of measures to fight it.

The association voted on the measure at its annual meeting in Chicago. The AMA noted that obesity rates in the United States have "doubled among adults in the last twenty years and tripled among children in a single generation" and that the World Health Organisation, the US Food and Drug Administration and Internal Revenue Service already recognize the condition as a disease.

According to "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2012," a study released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in September last year, adult obesity rates in 2011 exceeded 30 per cent in 12 US states.

The study projected that"if rates continue to increase at the current pace, adult obesity rates could exceed 60 per cent in 13 states, and all states could have rates above 44 per cent by 2030."

Obesity is associated with a variety of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Rising obesity is expected to increase America's already high health care costs.

The AMA's recommendations accompanying the vote included urging physicians and insurance companies to "recognise obesity as a complex disorder," encouraging national efforts to educate the public "about the health risks of being overweight and obese."

The AMA also recommended the creation "National Obesity Awareness Month" to highlight the benefits of exercise and to warn of the risks of obesity.