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Does the AMA's Declaration That Obesity Is a Disease Offer Us a New Excuse To Be Fat?

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Have you heard the latest news regarding obesity? According to USA Today, the American Medical Association (our nation's largest physicians' organization) recently decided to recognize obesity as a disease -- one that requires a range of medical treatments as well as prevention. USA Today goes onto report that for years obesity experts have worked tirelessly to have obesity recognized as a disease that deserves the kind of medical attention and insurance coverage that other diseases are afforded. "Previously the AMA and others have referred to obesity as a major public health problem," writes USA Today's Nanci Hellmich in her article.

As someone who continually tried to seek medical attention (through insurance) while trying to lose excess weight (and was often denied it, which resulted in my "topping out" at over 450 pounds), this news comes as a double-edged sword. One would hope that if the medical community recognizes obesity as a medical ailment, insurance companies will step up the plate and cover programs that can help people lose the excess weight.

But I also worry that, as is often the case in the medical and insurance communities, that these "treatments" will consist of, more often than not, prescription drugs and invasive surgeries -- when I believe that the real cure for obesity is in our heads.

I spent many years giving my eating addiction more power than it deserved. Much like several addiction support groups might encourage, I believed my need to eat (and, as a result, becoming morbidly obese at an early age) was beyond my control. In other words, I thought of myself as powerless. But at the end of the day, in my most humble opinion, our declaring ourselves as powerless over our addictions is not necessarily the sanest path to overcoming its challenges.

As human beings, we cannot cut out and avoid food (no matter what some of those juice fast enthusiasts tell us). Instead, we have to think of food (and drink) in a new, healthier and more moderate way. I've always believed that the hardcore dieting mentality ("I can have this, but can't have that") is what really gets us into trouble in the first place. None of us got fat by eating one cookie. Or even two. But eating the whole bag of cookies (on top of a quart of ice cream while washing it all down with a Diet Coke)? Yeah, that might be one of the causes (but I digress).

Fact is, I did not get fat (right around first grade) because I had a disease. It's because I was making poor eating choices. Environmental reasons (abusive parents, learning unhealthy eating habits, etc.) aside, it wasn't until I took control and decided I was more powerful than food, more powerful than drink and more powerful than my addiction, that I made some positive, permanent changes -- and dropped over 250 pounds by eating less and exercising more (along with drinking lots of water and getting the necessary amounts of sleep). It's a simple formula -- one that doesn't include being powerless or blaming our obesity on having a disease.

Don't get me wrong... I'm not knocking medical supervision. In fact, when changing one's eating and exercise habits, you absolutely should do it under a doctor's supervision in order to protect your heart (and other internal organs) as well as your joints and bones. The more informed you are (and the safer your weight loss journey), the better chances of permanent success. After all, the end goal is better health and a happier life. Being a potential supermodel (which, by the way, you are) is just an added bonus!

But the thought of doctors being more willing (able?) to prescribe pills, surgeries and other "tricks" to take off the excess weight makes me want to run for the nearest bag of cookies. Instead, I'll remind myself that I'm stronger and more powerful than any addiction. Perhaps this is why I've kept off those excess 250-plus pounds for over a decade.

So no matter how our community (and individual) obesity problem is classified, let's not forget that that the real cure comes from inside ourselves. And that's actually the best news to come out of all of this. Whether you know it or not, you not only already have what it takes to drop all of your excess weight -- you've had the power all along.

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