Obesity as a disease is a stretch

Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy

Last summer, the American Medical Association made the landmark decision to officially recognize obesity as a disease. Proponents of the new definition claim that will help draw physician’s attention to the condition and push more insurers to pay for it. According to a member of the AMA’s board, as quoted in the New York Times, “Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans.” However, I believe labeling obesity as a disease is an absolutely ludicrous move that will only worsen the excess and gluttony evident in our Western culture. There are so many things wrong with treating obesity as a disease I can’t even begin.

First of all, obesity is not a disease because it is an entirely preventable condition that chiefly the result of poor life choices. There have been far too many excuses given to obesity, but the biggest one is the idea that it is a result of genetics. While it is true that genetics do correlate to obesity, its influence has been way overblown. There are three main body types when it comes to weight and muscle gain, Ectomorphs, Mesomorphs and Endomorphs. Endomorphs do typically have trouble keeping weight off, but that by no means they are destined to be obese.  There is a distinct difference between overweight and obese; on the Body Mass Index scale, that’s about five points, which is significant.

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Take my family, for example. On my father’s side, the men were blessed with mesomorphic bodies (lean and fit), while my brother more resembled my mother’s lineage, in which the men are big endomorphs. My brother has had struggles with his weight in the past as a result of his genetics, always tiptoeing between being overweight and healthy. However, he is by no means obese. That’s a pretty extreme end of the Body Mass Index. Many use the terms overweight and obese interchangeably, when in fact the latter is far more severe.

Some people may wonder why this is important. They argue that because obesity is now so widespread in our country that it should be considered a disease. This mentality is exactly the problem with treating obesity as a disease. A problem does not become a disease simply because it is common. Do you think doctors in India treat citizens for “Starvation Disease”? We can’t treat obesity as a disease because it will perpetuate the idea that obese people are victims, when they really need to take responsibility for themselves. It’s absolutely ridiculous that some people get so fat that they require technology to even move. It’s a disgusting visual representation of the gluttony and waste that arises here, in the area of greatest wealth concentration in the world. It’s embarrassing, frankly. If you stuck these people in an area like Somalia, how sick and angry do you think the natives would feel? We need to confront our victim culture and gluttony, because it’s having a real impact on our country.

One of the biggest effects this widespread obesity is having on our country is being a big, fat drag on our healthcare system. Have you ever wondered why costs are inflating? Part of the reasons is because our guts are inflating too. Obesity has been shown to lead to a diverse array of other health problems, each more expensive than the last to get treatment for. Moreover, because we have a large amount of people getting obese and developing additional problems because of their lifestyle, insurance companies are having to shell out more money into the system to cover it, which then comes back to all of us in the form of higher monthly payments. The system requires more money to operate because some individuals are dragging it down and requiring more resources for themselves. In short, obesity is bad for not only the individual, but before everyone.

Obesity is the result of selfish, unhealthy life choices and affects everyone regardless of whether they are afflicted or not. There is no excuse for anyone’s body to be in such condition, and is only due to specific lifestyle choices. The people with these conditions have selfishly thrown themselves as a burden onto our healthcare system, making us all responsible for their gluttony. They deserve no special treatment and are not victims. Obesity is not a disease, as those afflicted have only themselves to blame.

Sean Kennedy is an undeclared freshman who is very, very “phat”. Love, hate and donuts can be sent to letters@collegian.com.