Video: A new decision by the American Medical Association to classify obesity as a disease could change the way doctors and insurance companies treat and cover obese patients. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman discusses what it could mean for people who struggle with their weight.
The American Medical Association officially designated obesity as a disease on Tuesday – a disease that requires medical treatment and prevention.
The organization doesn’t have any kind of official say in the matter, but it’s influential nonetheless, and the vote of the AMA’s policy-making House of Delegates is one more step in the evolution of social attitudes towards obesity.
“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans,” AMA board member Dr. Patrice Harris said in a statement.
One third of Americans are obese – and that’s on top of the one-third who are overweight. Obesity is more than just a matter of carrying around too much fat, says Dr. Michael Joyner, an exercise physiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
“The fat cells themselves we thought of for a long time as just warehouses for energy,” Joyner said in a telephone interview. But they also secrete chemicals, including chemicals that can cause inflammation, raise blood pressure and that down the road help harden the arteries.
“More widespread recognition of obesity as a disease could result in greater investments by government and the private sector to develop and reimburse obesity treatments,” the AMA said in one statement on the issue.
“Employers may be required to cover obesity treatments for their employees and may be less able to discriminate on the basis of body weight.”
The downside, the AMA says, is that people may expect that should be able to take a pill and “cure” obesity.
That clearly isn’t going to happen, Joyner says. Pharmaceutical companies have tried and tried, but just a very few drugs are approved for weight loss and even they don’t produce spectacular results.
“It is very, very difficult, once people get fat, to lose fat and keep it off,” Joyner says. “We live in a low-physical-activity, high-calorie, high-food-variety environment,” he added. “We are bombarded with images of food.”
But designating obesity as a disease could make it easier for policymakers to make changes. This has happened before with public health – once with smoking, and again with driving safety.
Americans consume too much salt in our diets leading to high blood pressure and possible stroke and/or heart attack. When shopping, I always consult the ingredients list, looking for the NSA (No Salt Added) label. Of course with a NSA label, there is always the possibility of finding a tiny camera or listening device within the package.
- Snowden to reveal more NSA secrets (rinf.com)
- Did someone help Ed Snowden punch a hole in the NSA? (sott.net)
- The NSA House Intelligence Committee Hearing: Softballs and Beer (sfcmac.wordpress.com)
By Peggy Peck
Medpage Today Senior Editor
Medical journals had a mixed bag of reports this week, highlighted by big news about a common and painful disease of aging — shingles.
Everyone who had chickenpox as a child is at risk of shingles in old age because both diseases come from the same herpes virus, which hides out in the body’s central nervous system long after its initial appearance as chickenpox. As age or illness weaken the body’s immune system the virus awakens from hibernation, this time as herpes zoster, better known as shingles, a condition that causes a blistering rash that is often followed by extreme pain called postherpetic neuralgia.
Shingles affects about 1 million Americans every year, but researchers say that a super-potent version of the chickenpox vaccine can not only prevent shingles outbreaks but can lessen the severity if the disease does flare despite the vaccine.
The researchers tested the vaccine in more than 19,000 volunteers, age 60 or older. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers reported that the vaccine reduced the incidence of shingles by more than 51 percent and reduced the incidence of painful shingle side effects by 66 percent, compared with 19,000 volunteers who were given a dummy vaccine.
But while the experimental vaccine is effective, the researchers said it is unlikely that the regular-strength chickenpox vaccine can be used to prevent shingles. So shingles prevention must await FDA approval of the experimental vaccine.
By Elisha Fieldstadt
The possibilities when it comes to marketing meat made from marijuana-fed animals are close to endless, but the man who came up with the idea has decided to simply call them “Pot Pigs.”
In fact, he doesn’t even smoke, he said.
Von Scheneidau said the notion came to him when he met the owners of a weed dispensary who told him that, ever since marijuana was legalized in Washington via popular vote last year, they’ve had extra stems, stalks, and leaves to get rid of.
He simply asked them if he could take what they were planning to throw out, as he once did with a farmer’s rotting cantaloupes.
Von Scheneidau said he has always experimented with what he fed his animals and is even currently adding beer and vodka to their troughs.
The marijuana remnants are mostly fed to pigs, but because the farms von Scheneidau works with are free-range, other animals have access to the weed feed as well, giving a new meaning to the phrase “party animals.”
General Keith Alexander said the NSA‘s surveillance programs have helped stop more than 50 potential strikes since the 9/11 attacks. At least 10 of them involved homeland-based threats. Bob Orr reports; and, in a pilot program in Tucson, Ariz., aerospace and defense contractor Raytheon is spending $100 million in hopes of inspiring future engineers and technology professionals. Anthony Mason reports.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN | The Taliban claimed responsibility Wednesday for an attack in Afghanistan that killed four American troops just hours after the insurgent group announced it would hold talks with the U.S. on finding a political solution to ending the nearly 12-year war in the country.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the insurgents fired two rockets into the Bagram Air Base outside the Afghan capital, Kabul, late on Tuesday. American officials confirmed the base had come under attack by indirect fire — likely a mortar or rocket — and that four U.S. troops were killed.
The attack came as the Taliban opened a political office in the Qatari capital of Doha, and announced they were ready for peace talks. The decision was a reversal of months of failed efforts to start negotiations while Taliban militants intensified a campaign targeting urban centers and government installations across Afghanistan.
Afghan military officially takes control of country’s security
President Obama’s plan for leaving Afghanistan reached a new milestone Tuesday as the Afghan military officially took responsibility for the country’s security. The White House also said it would try again to hold peace talks with the Taliban. Major Garrett reports.
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Even though same-sex marriage is now legal in France, you will like this video.