The American Medical Association is the latest in a growing list of groups that have classified obesity as a disease. Whether or not one believes that obesity is a disease, there is reason to believe that the new policy will pave the way for prevention and better treatment that will ultimately save billions in health care costs.
Since the 1980s, the rates of obesity have been steadily increasing along with a rapid rise in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes currently costs the US a staggering $174 billion a year. The first line of defense for treating pre-diabetes is weight loss and increasing physical activity. Obesity is a complex issue and impossible to fix in the one hour nutrition education session allowed by many insurance companies.
The time for registered dietitian nutritionists to shine is now. They can make a difference and save our country billions in health care costs. Prevention is the answer. Insurance reimbursement for lifestyle intervention/weight loss programs should be a priority – if not from a social welfare point of view, then certainly from a financial one.