The American Medical Association House of Delegates passed a measure in Chicago Tuesday to officially recognize obesity as a disease.
The measure read: "RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association recognize obesity as a disease state with multiple pathophysiological aspects requiring a range of 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," Dr. Patrice Harris, a member of the association's board, said in a statement.
Doctors and obesity advocates said that the official declaration of the nation's largest physician group could result in more attention being given to obesity, helping to improve reimbursement for drugs, surgery, and counseling treatments.
"I think you will probably see from this physicians taking obesity more seriously, counseling their patients about it," Morgan Downey, an advocate for obese people and publisher of the online Downey Obesity Report, said.
"Companies marketing the products will be able to take this to physicians and point to it and say, 'Look, the mother ship has now recognized obesity as a disease,'" he said.
The number of obese adults has more than doubled from 1980 to 2010. Analysts believe that if trends continue, the percentage of obese Americans could rise from 36 percent today to 42 percent by the year 2030.