According to the AMA, obesity is now a disease. Setting aside the particular condition, this decision reminds us that the concept of “disease” is complex, as are the social constructs attached to the disease label.
For example, the disease label may imply responsibility or lack of same by the person who has it. And in fact the person with a disease often attains the label of “patient.” Being a patient implies to many that they are passive recipients of care by the health care system rather than personally responsible for engaging in choices and behaviors that reduce or eliminate the condition. Diseases often carry with them stigma and shame, legal exculpation from responsibility, employer obligation to accommodate, insurer/government obligation to pay for and so on.
Expect this decision to generate considerable debate, emotions, and both intended and unintended consequences. Read more…
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