AMA Declares Obesity a Disease

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"We need to get physical activity back into everyone's lives, starting with our kids. We need to get them moving in school and after school. We need to get them eating healthy foods in appropriate amounts. That is where the conversation should be focused, not on whether this is a disease," he said.

Continuing its message of obesity awareness, the AMA also issued a statement against prolonged sitting and encouraged Americans to try different alternatives to sitting, such as standing desks, treadmill desks and walking meetings.

"Prolonged sitting, particularly in work settings, can cause health problems," Harris said. "Encouraging workplaces to offer employees alternatives to sitting all day will help to create a healthier work force," Harris said.

Medical experts have long recognized that sitting for hours on end is not as benign an activity as it seems. Studies find that after four hours of sitting still, the genes and enzymes regulating the amount of glucose and fat in the body start to shut down so that fat in the blood stream is captured and stored by fat cells all throughout the body, especially around the organs.

An Archives of Internal Medicine survey of some 220,000 adults found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day had a 15 percent greater risk of dying within three years than those who sat for fewer than four hours a day.

As the AMA meeting wraps up, there are still some other obesity-related proposals that will be considered during today's final voting session, including a recommendation to remove sugar-sweetened beverages as a subsidized item from the government Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that provides millions of low-income families with nutritional assistance.

Hill says such a policy if adopted would be more contentious than the AMA's other objectives. Though he certainly isn't defending sugary beverages and encourages all Americans consume less of them, he said he felt there was a real danger to blaming obesity and poor health on a single factor in the diet.

"We love a villain, but we shouldn't forget that obesity is complex and multifactorial," he said. "It may make us feel good to do this one thing, but removing soda isn't going to resolve the obesity crisis."

Is obesity a disease or is that besides the point? Do you plan to stand more after hearing the AMA's recommendations? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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