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Should obesity be treated as a disease?
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Many things have negative physical impacts that aren't diseases

There are hundreds of causes of symptoms like obesity that aren't diseases. Obesity can be deadly without being a disease.


Obesity can lead to health problems such as heart disease, type two diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

The Argument

Obesity is a cosmetic issue in which people have excess fat. Though this fat may affect other parts of the body and cause other diseases, obesity itself should not be considered a disease. The American Medical Association has said that it is difficult to determine whether obesity is in fact a disease as there is no clear definition for what a disease is. This makes it difficult to definitively determine whether obesity is a contributing factor to other diseases or a disease in and of itself.[1] If obesity is classified as a disease, many people who are obese and have the opportunity to take some actions to prevent themselves from developing more adverse health problems, may not take such steps. A disease is viewed as something that is unpreventable and difficult to treat without medication or doctors. For an obese person to lose weight, they would have to make lifestyle adjustments such as eating healthier and increasing physical activity; obesity does not require medical help to be treated. Although surgeries to remove fat (such as a tummy tuck) are a quick way to lose weight, making small life adjustments is also just as effective. If it were to be labeled as a disease, individuals may feel that they do not need to eat healthily or exercise as there are other factors that can contribute to obesity. This lack of desire to change their health may be due to their belief that the situation is hopeless.

Counter arguments

A disease can be self-inflicted, have symptoms, and can result in death. Things like cancer can be caused by smoking, exposure to radiation, and even exposure to building materials. That doesn't mean it's not a disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity is classified as a disease. This is as it is not just a cosmetic issue, it puts a person at risk for other complications such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. Contributing factors can be socioeconomic status, as well as eating habits. In addition, it is not necessarily just a lifestyle issue that causes the disease, genetics can influence it.[2] Cancer itself is not something that would cause an issue, it is how that cancerous tissue affects other tissues in a person's body. The same thing goes for obesity, the symptoms of the disease affect how well other parts of a person's body function. Many studies have been done to look at what effect exercise and eating healthy have on obesity. It has been found that in those that face prolonged obesity, these actions can have little effect.[3] This implies that though exercise can help some people to live a healthier lifestyle, many people struggling have other factors contributing to their obesity. Though the exact cause of their obesity is unknown, obesity itself can be considered a disease.



[P1] Many bodily changes have symptoms and are not diseases, including obesity.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Diseases come in different forms. Just because obesity is not identical to others doesn't mean it's not a disease.


This page was last edited on Friday, 10 Jul 2020 at 21:24 UTC

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