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Cedar Rapids Reacts To Obesity's New Distinction As A Disease

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (KGAN/KFXA) - A historic decision by the American Medical Association could change the way obesity is treated in America. On Tuesday the AMA classified obesity as a disease.

Fitness trainer Kayla Wilson at Cedar Rapids’ Sisters Health Club can relate to anyone struggling with their weight, because she understands the battle.

"It kind of hit me, ah, my old clothes don’t fit me, my face is fuller!" Wilson said.

Since December of last year though, Wilson has lost 26 pounds. She credits most of her success to watching what she eats coupled with a good workout routine.

She said she rarely encounters a client who is doing everything they can to achieve their own weight loss goals. She said most folks don’t realize how much they’re eating, or they get to a point where they don’t believe that any action will really help them lose weight. Wilson isn’t so sure that the AMA’s new distinction will make a difference for clients fighting obesity either.

"I think with it being deemed a disease, more people will fall on that crutch saying, ‘oh, well, I have a disease, I just need somebody else to help me,’" Wilson said.

Currently, 35 percent of the US population is obese. When you add in those that are overweight, 66 percent of Americans are struggling with their weight.

"It can lead to depression. A lot of times it causes patients to be embarrassed, they don’t want to go out and bike ride, they don’t want to go to the swimming pool," Dr. Robin Barnett, a family medicine doctor at Mercy Medical Center said.

Barnett agreed with the AMA’s new classification for obesity that tells Americans eating the wrong food and not getting enough exercise aren't necessarily what's adding on the pounds.

"I think this recognition of obesity being a disease will help those people that cannot lose weight on their own that have tried, that may have some type of metabolic reason that they are overweight!" Dr. Barnett said.

Yet, for those that have achieved success through exercise, they hope others can do the same.

"You just try every day to do your best, there’s going to be days that you’re going to have off days." Lisa Workman, who exercises at the Sisters Health Club said.

For the moments when weight loss efforts aren’t clicking at the gym, Dr. Barnett hopes patients have a better shot at finding answers at the doctor's office.

"Recognizing it as a disease may give us the opportunity now to have insurance help pay for prevention and for treatments," Dr. Barnett said.

High blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and heart disease can all be triggered by obesity. Currently, some insurance companies exclude treatments for health issues caused by obesity.


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