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AMA’s Classification of Obesity as a Disease Will Enhance Patient Care, Treatment and Prevention

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) June 21, 2013

The Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) today commended the American Medical Association (AMA) on its announcement officially recognizing obesity as a disease.

"The AMA's announcement is a tremendous step forward in legitimizing the severity of the obesity epidemic in our nation,” said Dr. Gerald Fried, SAGES President. “AMA's decision will increase coverage and patient access to necessary treatment options for the disease, including weight-loss surgery, which is the most effective treatment for morbid obesity, producing durable weight loss, improvement or remission of comorbid conditions, and longer life."

The United States has experienced a steady rise in obesity prevalence over the last 20 years and has the highest national rate of obesity. At the turn of the millennium, nearly two-thirds of Americans were overweight or obese, and almost 5% were morbidly obese [1]. This trend is ominous, because morbid obesity predisposes patients to comorbid diseases which affect nearly every organ system. These include: type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, hypoventilation syndrome, asthma, sleep apnea, stroke, pseudotumor cerebri, arthritis, several types of cancers, urinary incontinence, gallbladder disease, and depression [2-4]. Obesity shortens life expectancy [5], with increasing body mass index (BMI) resulting in proportionally shorter lifespan [6].

According to SAGES Bariatric Group, Co-Chaired by Dr. Marian Kurian and Dr. Kevin Reavis, “From a purely medical standpoint, AMA’s move will provide primary care physicians with the diagnostic license to specifically treat obesity, alongside other co-morbidities, and to also prescribe necessary wellness and prevention programs which will go a long way toward treating the disease, improving quality of life and increasing life expectancy.”

SAGES has been at the forefront of best practices in laparoscopic surgery by researching, developing and disseminating the guidelines and training for standards of practice in surgical procedures. SAGES Guidelines for Clinical Application of Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery, were issued in 2008 and are a series of systematically developed statements to assist physicians’ and patients’ decisions about the appropriate use of laparoscopic surgery for obesity. Guidelines are available at

Guidelines are developed under the auspices of the organization and its various committees, and approved by the Board of Governors. Each clinical practice guideline has been systematically researched, reviewed and revised by the Guidelines Committee and also evaluated by an appropriate multidisciplinary team. Guidelines are scheduled for periodic review to allow incorporation of pertinent new developments in medical research knowledge, and practice.

The mission of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) is to improve quality patient care through education, research, innovation and leadership, principally in gastrointestinal and endoscopic surgery. SAGES is a leading surgical society, representing a worldwide community of over 6,000 surgeons that can bring minimal access surgery, endoscopy and emerging techniques to patients worldwide. The organization sets the clinical and educational guidelines on standards of practice in various procedures, critical to enhancing patient safety and health.

1.    Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Johnson CL (2002) Prevalence and Trends in obesity among US adults, 1999-2000. JAMA 288:1723-1727
2.    Must A, Spadano J, Coakley EH et al (1999) The disease burden associated with overweight and obesity. JAMA 282(16):1523- 1529
3.    Overweight, obesity, health risk: National Task Force on the prevention and treatment ofobesity (2000) Arch Intern Med 160:898-904
4.    North American Association for the study of obesity (NAASO), the National Heart (1998) Clinical Guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: the evidence report. National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, NIH publication 98-4083
5.    Mizuno T, Shu IW, Makimura H, Mobbs C (2004) Obesity over the life course. Sci Aging Knowledge Environ 2004(24): re4 (ISSN 1539-6150)
6.    Fontaine KR, Redden DT, Wang C et al (2003) Years of life lost due to obesity. JAMA 289(2):187-193

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