Thursday, December 31, 2009

Is Obesity a Disease? Current Research, Facts, Figures, and the Pros and Cons at New ProCon.org Website

/PRNewswire/ -- ProCon.org, a nonpartisan 501(c)3 nonprofit public charity dedicated to promoting critical thinking, created the new website http://www.obesity.procon.org/ to explore the core question "Is obesity a disease?"

The debate over whether or not obesity is a disease grows as obesity rates and the cost of treating obesity-related conditions increase in the United States.

Proponents stress that obesity is a disease because it is a result of genetics and biological factors, citing scientific studies that have shown a link between obesity and heredity. Certain known illnesses can also cause weight gain or obesity, including hypothyroidism, Cushing's syndrome, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Opponents argue that obesity is not a disease because it is the result of a person's environment (i.e. residential location, social circle, economic status, etc.), lifestyle, and eating habits, citing other studies that show obesity is a result of environment and social networks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an "epidemic" of 72 million obese people in the United States in 2006 with 34.3% of adults considered obese (vs. 13.4% in 1962) and 32.7% considered overweight (vs. 31.5% in 1962).

In 2005 obesity accounted for an estimated 216,000 deaths (1 in 10 deaths) among U.S. adults. It was the third-leading risk factor in U.S. adult deaths, after tobacco smoking (467,000 deaths) and high blood pressure (395,000 deaths). Obesity and obesity-related health conditions cost an estimated 10% of annual medical spending in the US, totaling $147 billion in 2008.

As of Dec. 15, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO), FDA, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have all stated that obesity is a disease. The CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have not taken a position on whether or not obesity is a disease. The U.S. House of Representatives in its Oct. 29, 2009 health care bill H.R. 3962 included obesity as a "behavioral risk factor" and not as a disease.

The latest ProCon.org website explores many pro and con arguments and includes sources, images, videos, reader comments, and a section of little known facts called "Did You Know?" The findings should help readers think critically, educate themselves, and make informed decisions about eating, exercise, and their own Body Mass Index (BMI).

Did You Know?

-- In 2008 Mississippi had the highest rate of obesity out of all the
U.S. states at 32.8% of its population. Colorado had the lowest rate
at 18.5%.
-- Out of dozens of countries studied, U.S. males ranked 5th and U.S.
females ranked 11th in obesity according to World Health Organization
data from 2000-2007.
-- In 2005 obesity accounted for an estimated 216,000 deaths (1 in 10
deaths) among U.S. adults. It was the third-leading risk factor in
U.S. adult deaths after tobacco smoking (467,000 deaths) and high
blood pressure (395,000 deaths).
-- 67% of the adult U.S. population was either overweight or obese
between 2005-2006.
-- Since 2002, Americans who are medically diagnosed as obese have been
allowed to claim federal tax deductions for doctor prescribed
treatments, "special food," and weight loss programs.

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