AMA Declares Obesity a Disease: Hallelujah!


The American Medical Association has finally given the biggest epidemic of the 21st century the status is deserves, opening up the possibility that health care professionals will be compensated for helping to prevent it.

A banner day occurred in medicine a few weeks ago. The American Medical Association (AMA) finally broke down and called obesity a disease. It took them long enough, but they finally gave the biggest epidemic of the 21st century the status it deserves. This is awesome news. If obesity is a disease, it means that health care professionals can treat it, and insurance companies will have to pay us to do so. I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

This news couldn’t be more in my wheelhouse if it tried. As a preventive medicine specialist, I can make a real difference with this. I might even get paid for doing it.

Wellness is becoming a popular trend in health care. Everybody is jumping on the bandwagon. There are these uncertified life coach types making small fortunes teaching teenagers how to lose weight. Nutritionists have been around for years doing very good work. However, representatives of neither of these groups would be taken seriously by a doctor if they said the patient could use a reduction in medication due to their weight loss and improved clinical numbers. That is where pharmacists come in—we get paid to do just that.

Take a specially trained pharmacist, and, when the prescription for diet and exercise is written, they can fill it. I got a specialized degree in diet and exercise from a 7-year experiment where I went from a 306-pound, pack-a-day smoker to a Boston Marathon qualifier, and everything in between. I know exactly what it takes to get physically fit. If you are willing to put in the work— and it IS work—I can help get you there. I’m very Boba Fett when it comes to offering my services, so I do require compensation. Consider it an investment in your quality of life.

According to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies have to start covering preventive care. With the AMA having declared obesity a disease, it is possible that insurance companies may soon have to start paying to help prevent obesity. I’ll have to check with an astronomer to see if there have been any significant planetary alignments recently, because I’m feeling a lot of good karma right now.

Companies specializing in preventive care (I prefer the term to wellness) should be clamoring for their share of the avalanche of health care cash that will be available for decades to come. If I were CEO of such a company, I’d see to it that we had programs and protocols already in place. I’d also be negotiating with the insurance companies, detailing how they are going to pay us for saving the lives of our children. It’s only a matter of time before the coffers open up.

My dream of developing a fee-for-service pediatric and adolescent diet and exercise program is beginning to seem like it might become a reality before long. If my alarm clock goes off, and I awaken into a world where all of these changes are nothing more than the stuff of my dreams, I’m going to be miffed. Peace.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, likes where things are headed.

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