GREENSBORO, N.C.--The American Medical Association has adopted a new policy that officially labels obesity as a disease "requiring a range of medical interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention," according to an AMA statement.
The physicians' group voted to approve the obesity policy, among others, on Tuesday during its annual meeting in Chicago.
The organization says they voted on this measure after debating whether the action would do more to help affected patients get useful treatment or would further stigmatize a condition.
Dr. Jamy Ard with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center believes more widespread recognition of obesity as a disease could result in more investments by the government and the private sector to develop and reimburse obesity treatments.
"When you are a certain weight, you are at an increase risk of different diseases. The insurance companies understand this very clearly," Ard said.
The AMA said that employers may be required to cover obesity treatments for their employees and may be less able to discriminate on the basis of body weight.
Ard says nearly 30% of people that live in North Carolina are considered obese.