The American Medical Association (AMA) this week held its annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois. The doctors attending the meeting have a large influence on the strategies medical professionals across the U.S. use to combat illnesses.
Of the many topics taken up at the meeting, one simple change in wording could have a greater effect on Americans than any other topic. The AMA this week adopted a policy recognizing obesity as a disease. The new definition will require, the AMA says, medical interventions to "advance obesity treatment and prevention."
“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, AMA board member. “The AMA is committed to improving health outcomes and is working to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, which are often linked to obesity.”
In addition to the obesity issue, the AMA adopted policies on a wide range of medical topics. The AMA now officially supports a ban on marketing energy drinks to children and recognizes the health risks of prolonged sitting. The organization also opposes discrimination based on an individual's genetic information and admitted the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association to the AMA's House of Delegates.
On the final day of the meeting, the AMA waded into a controversial issue that has put personal freedoms and public health concerns at odds in New York City. The AMA adopted a policy supporting the removal of sugar-sweetened drinks from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP is a U.S. Department of Agriculture service that offers food assistance to low income Americans.
“The AMA is working to improve the nation’s health care outcomes, particularly cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which are often linked to obesity,” said Dr. Ardis Hoven, AMA president. “Removing sugar-sweetened beverages from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will help encourage healthier beverage choices.”