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Since last June 2013, The American Medical Association has identified Childhood Obesity and obesity as a disease. However, there is no clear, widely–accepted definition within the medical community of what constitutes a disease.

Obesity has been considered a major national health concern for several years, and has come more into the spotlight with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. Childhood Obesity is affecting more than double the number of children it did 30 years ago, and four times as many adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As recently as 2012, over 30 percent of children and teenagers in the United States were categorized as overweight or obese; 17 percent of American kids and adolescents were obese in 2012. Childhood Obesity can lead to health problems that last the rest of the child’s life, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high levels of cholesterol.

Childhood Obesity is clearly a significant problem, but is it a disease or a medical condition? It had previously been known as a ‘medical condition’, ‘complex disorder’, ‘major public health problem’, and more by the AMA until the AMA updated their official recognition of obesity as a disease last year. Although they classified it as a disease, there are two primary arguments about whether Childhood Obesity should be categorized as a disease or not:

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The AMA’c Council on Science and Public Health and other opposing parties argue that while Childhood Obesity is certainly a serious medical condition, it is not a disease. Their reasoning is that it is the result of a sedentary lifestyle and personal choices based on the risk factors associated with Childhood Diabetes. There is also concern with patient reception of the classification – that they may feel a disease is out of their control to fight.


Many people hope this change will incite patients and physicians to regard Childhood Obesity with more gravity. The side of the argument supporting the classification of Childhood Diabetes believes that this decision will expand opportunities for legislation, prevention and even more extensive coverage from insurance plans. They also believe that this decision is an example of the evolution of medical understanding in the last 10 years.

According to the American Medical Association, Childhood Obesity is classified with obesity as a disease, however the debate among physicians and other members of the medical community continues.

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