The United States has been ranked the number one industrialized country with the highest obesity rate. A report conducted in 2016 shows that 37.6% of American adults were obese compared to 13% in the early 1980’s. It accounts for close to 12% of the healthcare spending and deaths in the country (Puhl & Heuer, 2016). Obesity has been identified as an epidemic by the CDC (center for disease control and prevention) (Puhl & Heuer, 2016). According to Klein et al., (2015), two out of every three adults in the United States are obese or overweight.  He goes on to say that the rate of obesity among adolescents and children has increased to more than triple since the 1980’s. It is sad that for the first time in more than a century, children’s expectancy is going down due to obesity. The prevalence has become common in the United States than any other country in the world. It is caused by eating behaviors. It is, therefore, recommendable that people should avoid regular consumption of fast foods to avoid preventable and expensive health conditions such as obesity. However, the Obesity Society (TOS) as quoted by Wolf & Colditz, (2008) has argued that obesity should not be labeled a disease. According to Wolf & Colditz, (2008), obesity is a complex condition with numerous causal contributors. These includes those within and out beyond an individual’s control. They seem to go through a lot of social stigmas as if they were suffering from a disease while they are not. The debate on whether obesity should be declared a disease, therefore, seems to remain controversial. In my opinion, it should not.

Thoughtful arguments supporting both sides of the issues have been tabled. The scientific approaches employed in an attempt to prove that obesity is not a disease.  First off, scientists have identified characteristics that other entities have to be classified as diseases and then secondly examined the empirical evidence exhibited by obesity for comparison. Although there have been authoritative bodies that have issued statements that tend to insinuate that obesity is a disease, their opinions are insufficient since they are not scientifically proven. This is based on a personal perception but not facts.

Classifying obesity as a disease would mean that people do not have control over the condition. It is evident that it’s a lifestyle choice that determines whether one is going to be obese or not. A disease is classified as a condition over which the victim has no control over. Classifying obesity as a disease would, therefore, mean that huge percentage of US citizens are ill. It as well suggests that those who are not obese are so because of their heavy reliance on expensive medicine.

The classification of what a disease is classified as is very gray and but a disease is a condition that requires outside intervention. Obesity does not. The solution to obesity is checking one’s eating habits and does not necessarily call for external intervention. It is caused by failure to observe simple eating rules that suggest that a person should maintain a healthy food pyramid and turning a blind eye to nutritional information (Klein et al., 2015).

It would be wrong to classify obesity as a disease since that would be like comparing it to Malaria. Whereas malaria is acquired through external factors, obesity is self-inflicted.

While proponents believe that obesity is not a disease since it is preventable than the common diseases and that it is as a result of eating too much and exercising so little, opponents contend that it is a disease since it meets all conditions met by a disease. Such argument is presented by the American Medical Association’s in a report they compiled in 2013 (Klein et al., 2015). According to the report, a disease is an impairment of the normal body functioning and has characteristic symptoms and signs. The report claims that a disease causes morbidity to the body. According to the report, obesity meets all these conditions since it results in an impairment, causes morbidity to the body and has characteristic symptoms and signs. This makes obesity satisfy all the conditions a disease would meet. For this reason, they claim that it is a medical condition or a disease. They argue that the slight difference between obesity and other diseases is that suffering from obesity is that they have to wear their condition on the outside (Wolf & Colditz, 2008).

They as well argue that obesity impairs the normal functioning of the body and decreases life expectancy. This is because people suffering from obesity tend to have excess adipose tissue (Klein et al., 2015). This increases the content of fat in the body as therefore leads to overproduction of leptin. This is the molecule that regulates energy expenditure and food intake in the body. It leads to abnormal food intake and energy expenditure. They claim that this leads to reproductive impairment which ultimately leads to sexual dysfunction in men and women. It as well leads to infertility and raises the risk of low sperm counts in men and miscarriages in women.

They additionally argue that can be caused by genetic factors, just like some diseases. They claim that obesity, just like height or complexion can be inherited from parents. Wolf & Colditz, (2008), suggests that genetic factors at times influence the body-mass index.

In conclusion, different arguments tend to label obesity as a disease. However, those that prove that obesity is not a disease tend to be stronger. The negative attitude towards people who have obesity has influenced the formation of anti-obesity policies and movements. Many companies have initiated fitness and weight loss initiatives to reduce cases of obesity.


Klein, S., Allison, D. B., Heymsfield, S. B., Kelley, D. E., Leibel, R. L., Nonas, C., & Kahn, R. (2015). Waist circumference and cardiometabolic risk: a consensus statement from shaping America’s health: Association for Weight Management and Obesity Prevention; NAASO, the Obesity Society; the American Society for Nutrition; and the American Diabetes Association. Obesity15(5), 1061-1067.

Puhl, R. M., & Heuer, C. A. (2016). The stigma of obesity: a review and update. Obesity17(5), 941-964.

Wolf, A. M., & Colditz, G. A. (2008). Current estimates of the economic cost of obesity in the United States. Obesity6(2), 97-106.

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