Obesity is clearly a disease and not a reflection of "individual failure"

LETTER — Posted April 10, 2006

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Regarding "Is obesity a disease? Clinicians disagree" (Article, Feb. 6): To deny that obesity is a chronic, relapsing, neurobiological disease is tantamount to ignoring the last 50 years of medical progress. Far from being the disgusting, volitional disorder reflecting individual failure, a view shared by most Americans through their mass-media tainted eyes, it is now known to be associated with significant hypothalamic, neuroendocrine and physiologic dysregulation. Once the obese state is established, the body vigorously defends against negative energy balance via persistent changes in appetite, resting and active energy expenditures, muscle energy efficiency and nutrient partitioning, among others. These changes are well-documented in published, peer-reviewed studies.

Like virtually every other chronic medical condition, treatment termination is associated with return of the underlying condition or, as in this case, the recidivism that is commonly associated with weight management. This result, however, does not equate to personal failure and does not negate the fact that obesity, once established, is a disease state, currently with limited, long-term medical treatment modalities and long-term treatment results.

Michael D. Myers, MD, Los Alamitos, Calif.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/04/10/edlt0410.htm.

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn