PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The American Medical Association announced Wednesday that it now recognizes obesity as a disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.7 percent of adults in the United States are obese, which increases their risk for stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other preventable chronic illnesses.

The Institute for Integrative Nutrition
says that the AMA believes obesity is a disease that requires medical treatment, and hopes designating it as a disease will help increase public funding and awareness.

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Integrative Nutrition says the argument surrounding this decision by the AMA is that the widespread perception of obesity is caused by laziness and overeating. But some are arguing that “The suggestion that obesity is not a disease but rather a consequence of a chosen lifestyle exemplified by overeating and/or inactivity is equivalent to suggesting that lung cancer is not a disease because it was brought about by individual choice to smoke cigarettes.”

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However, according to Integrative Nutrition, people fear that “medicalizing” obesity may lead people towards drugs and surgery. Also, many criticize how obesity is diagnosed – through body mass index, which has been called simplistic and flawed – causing the Council on Science and Public Health to conclude that obesity should not be recognized as a disease in 2012.

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