Is Obesity a Disease? Society plays a fundamental role in every individual’s life. The problems that run in the society are the foundation of many other problems. Like other social problems, obesity is now considered as one of the serious social problems rather than just being the personal problem of an individual. It is expected to be one of the most contentious issues in the modern world. Some people say that obesity is a disease, while others argue that it is just a risk factor that is causing serious health issues. Obesity is usually considered as a risk factor because; it can be prevented by changing unhealthy lifestyle and following healthy habits. Only in few cases when the extreme level of obesity has achieved which cannot be forestalled and requires special intervention, but it can still be managed through careful mediation. Therefore; it is considered as a risk factor, not a disease.
There are large numbers of obese people in the United State, and it ranks among the second most obese country in the world. Usually, obesity is defined as having an excessive amount of body fat, but World Health Organization has defined obesity by computing individual body mass index, which can be calculated by measuring person’s weight in kilograms divided by measured height in meters. By the current criteria, a body mass index of <18.5 is considered underweight, whereas a body mass index of 25 or more considered as overweight or pre-obese, and a person whose body mass index is above 30 falls under the category of obesity. The ideal body mass index is between 18.5 and 24.9.The people with greater body mass index are more predisposed to serious health issues like type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disorders.
Obesity is often multifactorial condition, which depends on both genetic and behavioral factors. The number of ongoing research on obesity has proved that obesity has resulted mainly from unhealthy habits such as eating an excessive amount of food rich in calories, sedentary lifestyles and lack of exercise. Another important factor is a genetic disposition, which determines person’s susceptibility to gain weight.
There is presently global epidemic of obesity in all age groups. According to the report of disease control center, there is a high prevalence of obesity in the United States in the year 2005 and 2006, which is roughly about 72 million peoples are obese people. They have conducted additional research after that and found out that there is an increasing rate of obesity and associated risk factors with every passing year. The study has also found out that obesity is the third prominent cause of death, after high blood pressure and smoking, because the risk factors like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and other serious health issues associated with obesity put their lives in danger.
The fact that what causes obesity clearly states that there is no medical condition that causes obesity because it is a result of eating too many calories, or it may be due to genetic factor because the gene expressed in developing obesity is different in every individual’s body. In other words, in some cases, people eat a lot but do not gain weight or readily become obese. On the other hand, some people eat less and readily gain weight. Both these factors do not meet the criteria for the disease. There is a lot of factors which blames for obesity like genetic, psychological and metabolic factors, but these only explain the fact why people eat a lot than other, none of them are found to because of obesity. According to the currently accepted definition of disease, it is defined as a condition in which individual’s body or a part of body functions abnormally and the body starts exhibiting sign and symptoms to show that something is going wrong that hinders the body to perform the function properly. It can be perceived that obesity does not give any sign or symptoms. For example, if a person is obese he or she does not get any condition that disturbs their normal lifestyle or they do not have any symptom that indicates that they are suffering from any kind of disease or serious health issue; instead of this, they live a normal life like others. Therefore, it can be concluded that obesity does not meet the criteria to be classified as a disease.
According to Cohen, it is clear that obesity is nowadays one the most serious public health problem, but by labeling it as a disease means labeling more than half of the population as sick, which is not the case. Since it signals something outside the normal; however, in reality, obesity is normal and totally integrated into ways of our life. In addition to this, it would create a disturbance in the society because people do not like to hear dreaded words about their otherwise normal healthy lifestyle.
There is a high threat of having increase cholesterol level, blood pressure and cardiovascular disorders in person with obesity, which depicts that it is a condition, associated with others and not itself a disease; however, not everyone with a high body mass index has these complications. Some studies have shown that about 35 percent of obese individuals are metabolically healthy and live a normal life.
Moreover, a disease is the serious health condition that needs a careful intervention like medications and surgeries, while obesity does not need any critical intervention like the disease. In other words, to cure obesity is not as complicated as to cure any serious disease. Ion McColl, quote the basic strategy of obesity as it is a condition killing millions of people and costing billions for treatment and interventions and the cure of obesity is free that is eat less. This explains that if people start taking care of their diet, they are less prevalent to serious health issues and less likely of developing risk factors associated with obesity, all they have to do is eat less, and to keep in mind that prevention is better than cure. This is another viewpoint that strongly suggests that obesity is the risk factors of many other serious diseases.
The significant range of intervention and medical management is necessary to mitigate the rising trend of obesity as it is a base condition that gives rise to serious health issues like diabetes, sleep apnea, arthritis, and other serious health issues. It seems like treating obesity will ultimately treat all those issues. According to Alfonso Torquati, obesity treatment would not only be successful by just losing calories it rather requires careful intervention to reduce the risk of developing the disease. By saying eat less sound doable but this is not the case with many of the people who have reached the end stage of obesity and beyond the line where only medical treatment can help to alleviate their disease. Although the viewpoint supports the fact that what needs to control disease condition exactly meet the criteria of treating obesity, but one has to deal with such cases if there are some serious associated health issues with obesity like doing surgeries in cardiac patients or prescribing medication for long-term in thyroid patients in both cases the factors associated with obesity need treatment, not obesity itself, because it is just a risk factor that causes a disease, not the disease itself that needs to be treated.
Obesity is referred to as genetically chronic disease because of the environment in which we live is called obesogenic environment, which means that there is strong influence of environment on our lives because people are following unhealthy lifestyles such as eating a lot of fast foods rather than healthy food that engender a significant role in the accumulation of body fat. Micheal Gonzalez said that obesity is widely spreading chronic diseases in an environment where we live like other diseases which have strong environmental influences. Therefore, it should be treated like other chronic diseases like the treatment management should include all level of modalities such as from prescribing medications for short time period to doing major surgeries, not just diet and exercise. If this is the case, then all other associated environmental risk factors like smoking, drug abuse etc. should be considered a disease, but these are all just risk factors causing serious health issues. For example, smoking causes lung cancer but it is not the disease itself, same is the case with obesity it causes other health issues for those who live in an unhealthy environment and therefore it is not a disease.
It can be concluded that obesity does not meet the criteria to be considered as a disease; in order for obesity to be a disease, it would have to impair the normal functioning of an individual body and have distinguishable sign and symptoms. Fortunately, it lacks the sign and symptoms associated with disease; however, it is associated with other health-compromising issues like cardiovascular disorders, diabetes mellitus, thyroid issues and many other problems. Therefore, the problem of obesity arises from excess consumption of caloric food and drinks, which can ameliorate by burning calories and an excessive amount of body fat through a workout, daily exercise and consuming healthy food. In addition to this, in most cases, genetic factor does not allow a person to gain ideal weight, but eating healthy food and implementing active lifestyle will result in decreasing chance of developing the obesity-related disease and keep them otherwise healthy normal individual. In a nutshell, calling obesity a disease contradicts functioning of our body and blame by considering half of the population as sick.
“Background of the Issue”. 31 Aug 2016. Procon.org. Understand the issues. Understand each other. https://obesity.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=006595Cohen, “Is Obesity a Disease”? , Doctor debate, 2012.
https://www.livescience.com/21222-obesity-disease-debate.html”Energy Today Magazine, College Education Magazine”, 2017. http://www.energytodaymagazine.com/a-great-essay-example-on-obesity-as-a-social-problemGonzalez, Micheal. “The Birth of Bariatric Endocrinology and the Coming of Age of Obesity Medicine”, 2016.
https://obesity.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001611McColl, Ion. “Is Obesity a Disease”.2016 .Understand the issues. Understand each other .
https://obesity.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001611Nordqvist, Joseph. “Metabolically healthy obesity: All you need to know”, 2017. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265405.php.
Ofei, F. “Obesity – A Preventable Disease”, 2005. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1790820/.
Rettner, Rachael. “Is Obesity a Disease? Doctors Debate”, 2012. https://www.livescience.com/21222-obesity-disease-debate.html.
Torquati, Alfonso. “Is Obesity a Disease”.2016 .Understand the issues. Understand each other .