Last week, the American Medical Association (AMA) made headlines when the organization announced that it was changing the designation of obesity from a 'disorder' to a 'disease.' While the two labels sound similar, they actually mean very different things to health care providers, insurance companies, and to members of the obese community.
In fact, the characterization of obesity as a 'disease,' immediately sparked backlash on social media. On Twitter, the hashtag #IamNotADisease was born with messages condemning the AMAs decision. Here's a sample of the messages:
Thanks to the AMA, I can now call into work sick. 'Sorry, I can't come in today, I'm fat.' #IAmNotADisease
— Rachel (@Rackap) June 26, 2013
Despite what the American Medical Association says, #IAmNotADisease and neither are you: http://t.co/VpPVV9ViK1
— Lesley Kinzel (@52stations) June 19, 2013
The ruling of fat as a disease is not about health but corporate profit and greed. It always has been. #iamnotadisease
— Amanda Levitt (@FatBodyPolitics) June 19, 2013
I am strong, I exercise every day and love being active, and I am obese. My body isn't perfect but I'm thankful for it, and #IAmNotADisease.
— Kiri Moth (@kirimoth) June 19, 2013
Marilyn Wann, the author of FAT!SO? and a weight diversity speaker, wrote an opinion piece for CNN noting that by labeling obesity as a disease, fat people will likely encounter more weight bias, not less as the AMA stated was its intention. She also laments how this new designation may force health care providers to push weight loss supplements and surgery on otherwise healthy people who are designated as 'obese.'
Wann recently started a petition on Change.org asking the AMA to stop defining obesity as a disease. She writes:
Using weight to define health is inaccurate, unscientific prejudice. It directly fuels discrimination in the workplace, from insurers, in medical care, and in social interactions. The war on so-called "obesity" [sic] is a war on fat people. Doctors already exhibit dangerous levels of weight bias. Fat people deserve care, not condemnation. Correlation≠causation. Behavior≠BMI. Weight≠health. Hate is not good for public health.
What do you think about the AMA's decision to label obesity as a disease?