Area doctors agree obesity is a disease
BATON ROUGE - The American Medical Association is classifying obesity as a disease, and doctors around the capital city are backing the move.
Tuesday, top doctors said they made the change in an effort to reduce heart disease and type 2 diabetes, which are often linked to obesity.
The shift means obesity now requires treatment and that could effect health care costs.
"Physician in general will need to be educated. They're going to have codes for obesity in where you code why did you see this person," said Dr. Eric Ravussin with Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. He's studied the effects of obesity for decades.
Dr. Ravussin agrees with the change.
"Policies are going to be put into place too to try to decrease the prevalence of obesity which is so costful to the healthcare system," Dr. Ravussin said. "If this kind of measure is not taken and the public and the physician and the policy makers don't tackle this obesity problem, we are facing a huge crisis for the healthcare system."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, obese people spend nearly $150 billion a year on health care costs. On average, that's $1400 more a year than people the CDC classified as "normal weight."
"Medicare has covered this as a disorder for more than ten years," Bariatric Surgeon Dr. Jonathan Taylor said.
Taylor foresees the change will affect insurance premiums.
"I think overall most Americans will see some benefit because if you're insurance dollars are going up every year because someone is having problems with diabetes and blood pressure, if they can all lose weight, we'll all save money," he said.
But insurance companies News 2 reached out to said there has yet to be a discussion about whether and how this will affect their policies.
Ravussin believes calling obesity a disease means a shift in healthcare across the board.
"All of the sudden you're going to have a third of the American population saying 'hey I have a disease. I'm allowed to this or that or two seats on an airplane.' You can have these kind of reactions. It's going to happen," Dr. Ravussin added.