TODAY

TODAY   |  June 19, 2013

Obesity now classified as a disease

A new decision by the American Medical Association to classify obesity as a disease could change the way doctors and insurance companies treat and cover obese patients. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman discusses what it could mean for people who struggle with their weight.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> thanks now to a decision that could change the way doctors and insurance companies treat and cover obese patients. for the first time, the american medical association voted to officially classify obesity as a disease. nancy snyderman is the chief medical editor. is this a big deal how it's called.

>> it's a big deal . if you talk with people that deal with obese patients or diabetes are pushing this. they see it as a diseased state.

>> there are pros to this and cons to this. let's talk about the advantages. the first thing i thought of was maybe that means insurers will reimburse more.

>> there's a pro con. the prois prevention and diagnosis but can you stop it.

>> but the bmi is not a perfect measure of good health or bad health, right.

>> right. so the bmi isn't perfect. that's what they were sort of using and you mention the cons. the cons are it takes away these discipline environment issues. does it mean then that people will say i don't have to worry about what i eat. cheap, bad food, eat too much. so you have two opposing sides, inside of medicine and outside of medicine. those that say your brain gets rewired. genetics play a role. of course you have a disease. you have the nondisease people saying how about self-discipline and those things come crashing together but then you have real science where the brain gets rewired and people get gastric bypass, their numbers change on the table before they even get to the recovery room. insurers are going to push back and the ama has a lot of clout when it comes to policy. so i think things will change .

>> one note in the recommendation you're labeling 1/3 of americans as ill. so we know it's a big deal .

>> yeah and 2/3 are overweight or obese.