Is obesity a disease

Dr. Steven Reisman, a New York City cardiologist, was recently interviewed on Fox Business News regarding the American Medical Association recently passing a resolution recognizing obesity as a disease.  A disease, which is defined as an abnormal condition which interrupts normal bodily functions and is usually associated with symptoms and signs, may also include disorders and syndromes.

Obesity is generally defined as an elevated Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a formula utilizing both height and weight. A BMI over 30 is generally considered obese. One of the problems with using only the BMI is it may overestimate body fat in athletes and others with a  muscular build, and may also underestimate body fat in older persons and those who have lost muscle mass. Another way of defining obesity is looking at “belly fat” by measuring the waist circumference. It is thought that a waist size greater than 35 inches for women and greater than 40 inches for men increases the risks that are associated with obesity and overweight individuals.

It is estimated that 1 in 3 Americans are obese. The complications of obesity include high cholesterol and elevated triglycerides, Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure or hypertension, metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high lipids, and also heart disease including heart attack and stroke. One study has shown that obesity can increase the risk of dying from heart attacks by 60% compared to non-obese individuals.

Dr. Steven Reisman, Director of the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center, recommends early evaluation for obesity and also early evaluation for the complications of obesity including elevated blood sugar or type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated lipids, and the possibility of risk for heart attack and stroke. This type of evaluation can be accomplished in a consultation with testing done at the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center.