Saturday, June 22, 2013

Obesity is a Symptom, Not the Disease

Did the American Medical Association get it wrong?

I am not an MD or a Phd. I have the battle scars in and upon my body to prove I know something about obesity. I am someone who experienced life as a morbidly obese binge eater/compulsive overeater and I knew that without help, I would likely stay that way. I did stay morbidly obese for over 20 years. Then I was fortunate to find the help I need and I have been a normal body weight for over 6 years - without the assistance of surgery, drugs or 'special' foods.

Binge eating/compulsive overeating are manifestations of an eating disorder. Binge eating and compulsive eating can cause obesity. Obesity is a symptom of an eating disorder. Make that the disease: binge eating and compulsive overeating.

I am no longer obese.  If I were under medical treatment for obesity, I would be considered "cured' today. However, I still exhibit the manifestations of my eating disorder so eventually (probably sooner rather than later) I would gain the weight back because the underlying disease of compulsive overeating was not cured, only the most physically apparent symptom.  Then, when I was again obese, you would treat the obesity again and ignore the eating disorder - again. - a vicious cycle.

The eating disorder does not go away when the obesity is relieved. There is much more to treating the disease of binge eating/compulsive overeating than reversing the symptom of obesity.



Karen said...

Agreed. Once the fog cleared, I put the binge/emotional eating in the same category as my thyroid disease in my mind. Something I would have to deal with the rest of my life.

I accepted it much better when I placed it on the right "bucket" in my mind. Not my fault, but I do have to take responsibility for the right treatment. Disease is still there, I take the right meds ( low inflammatory foods, exercise , sleep , support ) daily.

Good post, Jane.

Norma said...

THANK YOU, Jane. I read about this declaration on another blog a couple of days ago.

Obesity can be a symptom of a disease -- say, insulin resistance. The food cravings, insatiable appetite, blood sugar spikes/drops, etc. result in obesity.

In turn, the obesity can be a cause of a secondary disease like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.

Obesity itself is not a disease. To categorize it as such implies that it's some sneaky thing over which we have no control, like we don't know 'why' we're obese. This new definition of obesity may affect the way insurance companies view treatments like weight loss surgery, weight loss drugs, therapy approaches, etc.

Losing Shorty said...

I agree with you 100%. This was a wonderful post!

Unknown said...

I think especially for people (including myself) who were many pounds overweight--that there are definitely underlying reasons for that. I think that hearing this from you confirms my own belief about this. I have also suggested this on my blog.

The problem is getting people to realize/confront their underlying causes, so they can fully deal with them.

:-) Marion

FredT said...

|Jane: keep up the good work. All of us exobese have opinions on these subjects, and among the opinions is posssible the truth. To me, if obesity is a disease, that disease is likely hypersensitivity to dopamine, serotonin, endorphine, an opioid, or one of those other hormones, along with a ramped up ability to store fat, possibly hyperinsulinemia.
Calling obesity a disease makes it economic to do real research toward better treatment.

Vickie said...

Agree and would take it one step further and say compulsive over eating and binge eating and eating disorders in general are symptoms too.

I think there is something behind all of it, that must be identified/treated.

Not always the same thing (behind it). But there is something.

Food and the fat and the habits are just the parts we can see.

Leslie said...

Right on, Jane.

Leslie said...

Right on, Jane. I totally agree, and your comments about the real disease existing after the obesity treatment "works" are well stated.