Some argue that obesity itself is not a disease, but a condition which leads to other diseases. Others argue that it can be treated with medication while others might still argue that medication will not work.
Some argue that lifestyle changes are all that is required, but Dr. Christopher Ochner, of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, believes that this is definitely not the case.
He says, “Although lifestyle modifications may result in lasting weight loss in overweight individuals, in those with chronic obesity bodyweight seems to become biologically defended.”
Ochner continues, “Therefore, the current advice to eat less and exercise more may be no more effective for most obese individuals than a recommendation to avoid sharp objects for someone bleeding profusely.”
He goes on to add, “Few individuals ever truly recover from obesity; rather they suffer from ‘obesity in remission’. They are biologically very different from individuals of the same age, sex, and bodyweight who never had obesity.”
According to Dr Ochner, “Many clinicians are not aware of the reasons individuals with obesity struggle to achieve and maintain weight loss. Obesity should be recognised as a chronic and often treatment-resistant disease with both biological and behavioural causes that require a range of medical interventions including biologically based interventions such as pharmacotherapy or surgery as well as lifestyle modification.”
He adds, “Ignoring these biological factors and continuing to rely on behavioural modification will surely result in the continued inability to treat obesity effectively and the premature death of millions of individuals each year.”
However Dr Ochner says: “Obesity should be recognised as a chronic and often treatment-resistant disease with both biological and behavioural causes.”