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Debate: Should Canada classify obesity as a disease?
Debate: Should Canada classify obesity as a disease?

Obesity will now be classified as a disease in the U.S. The American Medical Association made the announcement after an association vote at its annual meeting in Chicago on Tuesday. The AMA also recommended a number of measures to help fight obesity, including the creation of a "National Obesity Awareness Month."

When asked for his opinion on the new classification, Dr. Arya Sharma, scientific director of the Canadian Obesity Network, told The Globe and Mail: "You do need professional help, you do need medical attention, and someone to run the right tests, so really treatment belongs in the hands of health professionals. Calling it a disease will hopefully increase access to that type of professional care that I think patients that have excess weight deserve and need."

He also noted that in Canada, while we are treating complications associated with obesity–such as Type 2 diabetes, cadiovascular disease and some cancers–we are still not treating obesity itself.

"In the end what you want is a framework that will allow patients better access to treatment for [obesity]," he said.

While obesity is recognized as a disease in the Canadian medical community, including the Canadian Obesity Network, it is not officially labelled a disease by the Canadian Medical Association.

According to Statistics Canada's 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey, 18.4 percent of Canadian adults (18 and older) are considered obese.

What do you think: Should obesity be officially classified as a disease in Canada?

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