Fat and diseased? I’m not buying it

July 1, 2013 

Last week, the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest organization of doctors, decided to recognize obesity as a disease. In its announcement, the group stated that, “obesity deserves medical attention and insurance coverage like other diseases receive.”

Consider me unimpressed with their sentiments because this is coming across as a cash grab and yet another way to bill insurers – not as a means to combat obesity.

People don’t want to hear this, but nearly every doctor already gives you a way to fight obesity at each and every check-up. Do the words “exercise more and eat healthier” ring a bell? I know that is a gross simplification, but why should we classify something as a disease that can be “cured” by getting on a treadmill and working a salad into the rotation?

Before legions of malfunctioning thyroid sufferers start calling me every name in the book, let me say I already know the talking points that eating healthy is expensive and time consuming, that exercise requires a time commitment, and that we need compassion for the morbidly obese. In my opinion, having understanding, empathy and compassion is exactly what has gotten us into the age of catering to every person like they are special. Telling it like it is isn’t admirable because one of the worst sins these days is shooting people straight and letting them know they actually have to put time and effort into life. They want a magic pill.

Guess what? Making obesity a disease might do exactly that. Doctors will now lean on medicinal treatments for obesity instead of improving the patient’s body.

This isn’t a popular position, but I don’t believe it is a given right to live a great life. It is not incumbent on myself or anyone else to ensure everyone has a blissful existence. If people choose to engage in behaviors that have negative outcomes, they should deal with the consequences and not hide behind some diagnosis of a disease, a disorder or any other jargon that is meant to soften their failings. I’m not thin, but I know exactly how I got the paunch – barbecue and beer and I know exactly how to get it off: eat less and exercise more.

You want a simple fix? Take out a calculator and do some math. If you ingest less calories than you burn, you lose weight. Period. For the obese, that is a simplistic approach, but it is nearly foolproof. But it also requires actual burning of calories to work, and too many act as if it has become their God-given right to sit and eat burgers on their motorized scooter.

You know what Darwin would say? Too bad. Refusal to change results in a culling of the weak, which ultimately strengthens the mass. I’ll turn a blind eye while the obese perish; others will hold their hands, sing lullabies to them and tell them what a cruel place the world is while they are washing down their magic pill with soda and fries.

Reach Scott at to trade paunches.

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