AirTalk for June 18, 2013

Is obesity a disease?

Special School Helps Teen Combat Childhood Obesity

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of children in the US ages 6-19 years are overweight or obese.

At their annual meeting in Chicago today, delegates of the American Medical Association have officially endorsed recognizing obesity as a disease. Opponents to the labeling argue that obesity is a risk factor for health problems and a reflection of someone's eating habits and chosen lifestyle.

Proponents, however, say that obesity has underlying metabolic and hormonal causes and designating it a disease would encourage a more direct response in fighting this national epidemic. This is not just a philosophical debate; upgrading obesity to a disease has important financial implications for the health insurance industry and for employers.

Is obesity a disease or is it a result of lifestyle choices?

Guests:

Dr. Scott Kahan, Director of the National Center for Weight & Wellness in Washington D.C. He also teaches at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Paul Campos, Professor of Law at the University of Colorado and the author of “The Obesity Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health” (Gotham, 2004)


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