Obesity designated as a disease - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Obesity designated as a disease

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MADISON (WKOW) -- For the first time, obesity if recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association. Some health professionals in Madison say this decision could mean more focus on the obesity problem and patient access to treatments.

One out of three Americans is now considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's a startling statistic that shows the weight of a growing epidemic.

"As I've been here at Dean, I've seen younger and younger kids coming in that are already struggling with weight management," Dean Clinic Registered Dietitian Amanda Hellman says. She works with people of all ages. "Both the public and health care providers realize obesity is a disease and it needs to be managed as a chronic disease," she says.

Now the AMA Has come to the same conclusion and she hopes that will leave lasting implications, including more continued care for obesity patients with visits to physicians and dietitians.

Obesity can lead to more health problems, like Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. Right now, Physicians Assistant Chad Hermsdorf says many don't qualify for medical care that could help with prevention at Dean's Comprehensive Weight Management Program.

"It's just that we struggle with them finding coverage for everything, whether they choose to go through a medical realm or surgical realm," Hermsdorf says. He hopes the decision will mean his patients won't have to pay out of pocket, and insurance companies will pay for more treatments and surgeries.

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CHICAGO (WKOW) --- The American Medical Association has made a decision to classify obesity as a disease.

The vote officially came down in Chicago Tuesday.

"Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans," AMA board member Dr. Patrice Harris said in a statement.

The question now, is how will this effect insurance rates or medical coverage?

27 News reporter Danielle Lama is asking those questions today to local obesity and insurance experts, and she's Got You Covered with some answers tonight in 27 News at 5 and 6. 

Click here to read more about the AMA's rulings.

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