What is a Disease and Why is Obesity One?

Hi, I’m Dr. Caplan from Helios Telemedicine for Men.  In my last videos, I talked about the definition of obesity, or unhealthy weight as I prefer to call it, and how we diagnose it.  But is obesity really a disease?  At Helios, we are certain that it is, and that is why we work hard with you to help you combat it and live the longer, healthier life you deserve. 

The World Health Organization defines as “health” as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing’ and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.  It’s a broad definition, but at least there is agreement.  I had thought that we all agreed that obesity is, in fact, a disease, but this isn’t universally accepted.  Some still classify it a risk factor for other diseases.  So, what is a disease and why do Helios, the W.H.O., and most medical associations classify obesity as one?  In my view, the W.H.O. definition of “disease” is too broad and vague.  I like the definition, ‘A disease is an abnormal condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, inflammation, environmental factors, or genetic defect, but not trauma, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs, symptoms, or both.’

Using that definition, obesity meets all the requirements to be classified as a disease.  There are signs, symptoms, and pathology specific to unhealthy weight.  It can be caused by a variety of factors and results in metabolic and functional abnormalities at the cellular and organ levels.  It can lead to additional medical issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and immune disorders; psychological effects such as depression and poor self-esteem, and mechanical effects such as arthritis and blood clots.  Finally, obesity is most commonly non-traumatic in origin.

This is important because, as a disease, it raises the priority for diagnosis and treatment beyond that of a risk factor or a benign syndrome.  Helios Telemedicine for Men knows how serious a disease unhealthy weight is, so we give you comprehensive treatment. 

That’s all for now.  Until next time, please check out my website for my prior videos and blog posts, links to more information, a complimentary self-assessment questionnaire for those worried about their testosterone levels, and a link to make an appointment to see me.  Thanks for your time and attention.  Bye for now.

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