Monday, February 24, 2014

Is Labeling Obesity a Disease Good or Bad?

After the American Medical Association voted to label obesity a disease, University of Richmond psychological scientists Crystal L. Hoyt and Jeni L. Burnette set out to determine whether the new label would help or harm America’s fight against obesity.

The researchers found a greater percentage of obese individuals reported having a positive body image after reading an article with an obesity-is-a-disease message. But these same individuals also expressed less concern about their weight and health-focused dieting, and made higher-calorie food choices than those who read a message stating obesity was not a disease. Hoyt and Burnette caution that more research is needed to understand the full effects of labeling obesity as a disease, and urge an “interdisciplinary perspective” in the fight against obesity.

Texas physicians know obesity has numerous physical and psychological consequences, and fighting the epidemic requires a multi-pronged approach. Watch Austin physician Kimberly Avila Edwards, MD, list the ways in which individuals, health care providers, and communities can combat obesity.

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