EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - It is estimated that one third of the country's population is obese. As a result, one medical group has designated obesity as a disease.
The American Medical Association (AMA) voted Tuesday to classify obesity a disease; saying it's the right step to treatment and prevention.
The AMA says obesity rates have doubled among adults in the last twenty years, and if not treated, by 2040 evidence suggests nearly half of the adult population may be obese.
"I think it is disease, yes. I think every effort should be made both to correct it and to cover it on insurance; if it's being treated as such," said Jerry Fix of Easthampton.
AMA delegates said obesity is due to an impairment of the normal functioning of some aspect of the body and classified it as a multi-metabolic and hormonal disease.
"People eat a lot of food now a days. And I'd say that's the biggest contribution," said Austin Crow of Easthampton.
The designation comes at a time when state governments are trying to limit sugar intakes. Mayors in 18 cities want to stop food stamps from being used to buy sugary drinks like soda. In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick is pushing for a tax on sugary drinks.
"I've been trying to cut down but I'm a serious coke fiend. And once you cut it out after a couple of weeks, you start to lose weight after all that sugar. So, you notice the difference? Yeah, absolutely," said Heather Miller of Easthampton.
Others say the proposal may be government over-reaching.
"I think it's a very fine line. And maybe there should be a limit or a cap on something," said Tyler Hotchkiss of Easthampton.
It's believed this designation may step up pressure on health insurance companies to reimburse doctors for discussing obesity's health risks with patients during check-ups.