The Truven Health Blog

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By Truven Staff

Is Obesity a Disease or a Risk Factor?

Ray Fabius imageHaving family members who are struggling to control their waistline, I am sympathetic to the issue of weight discrimination. But the Obesity Epidemic is a threat to our nation's health and budget. Studies suggest that it may even be causing a reduction in average life expectancy for the first time in over a century.
The question is not but rather whether to call it a disease itself, instead of just a risk factor. It is so closely tied to type II diabetes, heart disease and musculo-skeletal conditions and its is so difficult to correct once established that many experts are beginning to view obesity, particularly morbid obesity, as a chronic disease. Perhaps being overweight is a risk factor but at the point where someone reaches BMIs over 30 or 35 we should provide greater medical resources and contend with this as a recognized disease. And perhaps we need to address the segment of the population that is not obese and prevent them from unhealthy weight gain. To accomplish this will require cultural change. We can either soften our concerns about this great threat or get moving to reduce it.

Ray Fabius MD
Chief Medical Officer