I Wanna Rock and Roll All Nite... And Party Everyday!
Years ago an endocrinologist friend and now mentor introduced me to the term ‘the deadly quartet’. Visions of KISS aside it’s the vortex where upper-body obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, glucose intolerance and hypertension collide... And it’s now moving towards classification as a disease.
I had always believed that one had limited (or no control) over a disease – like a virus or infection, but as of today The American Medical Association recognises obesity as a disease rather than a condition. With a reported 63 per cent of Aussies overweight or obese one has to ask the sustainability question... What will happen to the cost of healthcare? Could this put a real dent into private insurers' bottom lines? Will the drug industry be looking to find a 'cure'? What will happen to the demand for bariatric surgery? What about patient stigma?
In the long term, health care experts say more treatment of obesity could end up significantly cutting high costs from diseases associated with being morbidly overweight, including diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Dr Melvyn Sterling says this brings to mind to the debate over whether hypertension is a disease. "I'm a general internist, among other things, and I treat the complications of this disease. It's interesting to look back in history at a time when hypertension was not thought to be a disease... Obesity is a disease. It's very, very, very clear that even though not every hypertensive gets a stroke and not every obese person suffers the complications, that does not change the fact that this is a disease."
With 67 per cent of Australians performing little to no exercise and their energy intake far exceeding their energy expenditure, I am NOT convinced and Dr Russell Kridel (AMA advisor) concurs . He further comments that “there is no debate about the importance and urgency of addressing the problem, but it doesn't qualify as a disease. It's more like smoking. Smoking isn't a disease. Smoking can cause disease such as lung cancer and emphysema in the same way that obesity can lead to diabetes and hypertension... We're really talking nomenclature here, not philosophy." I'd love to hear where YOU sit in this debate... Please comment or email me.