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Where Does Obesity Fit?: July 25, 2013

Most agree that obesity is an epidemic.

“The weight related changes that we’ve seen in the United States over the past 20 years have brought us to that definition of an epidemic. Where the majority of a population has a particular disorder,” says Dr. Sal Lacagnina, VP Health & Wellness with Lee Memorial Health System.

Now the American Medical Association is going a step further, defining obesity as a disease. It means that one-third of adults in this country and 17% of children have a medical condition that requires treatment.

“If you don’t become concerned about it and really take some action to make it better, you will end up with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes. The list goes on and on,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Recognizing obesity as a disease should make it easier for doctors to tackle.  Up to now, this heavyweight subject was like an elephant in the room. Many doctors were uncomfortable telling patients to lose weight. Now they are encouraged to cover weight loss treatment and prevention.

“We’ve become a ‘fix it’ kind of a system. We wait for the problems to occur and then we try to fix them with bypass surgery or with medications,” says Dr. Lacagnina.

Insurance companies are expected to follow suit, by including treatment and programs in their coverage. Lee Memorial Health System has several programs that help people control their conditions.

“It’s called the Chronic Disease Self Management Program. However for Lee Memorial Health System we are calling it ‘It’s All About You’ and the reason is because it truly is all about you and the decisions you make,” says Joyce Hall, RN case manager with Lee Memorial Health System.

It’s hoped a change of wording, will change people’s mindset and give them tools to change their lives.