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Obesity is NOT a Disease

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Obesity is a physiological condition characterised by an excessive accumulation of body fat, specifically the build-up of adipose tissue beneath the skin. In recent years, the number of people diagnosed with clinical obesity has increased dramatically, with governments desperately trying to tackle the obesity epidemic and its associated consequences (McLannahan and Clifton, 2008). Studies have found that the prevalence of obesity once stood at an estimated 9.8% (Kelly, Yang, Chen, Reynolds & He, 2008), a considerable figure representing almost 400 million individuals worldwide. Even though obesity has now been recognised as a major problem the number of people affected is increasing rapidly, with almost 300,000 deaths attributable to obesity in the USA each year (Allison, Fontaine, Manson, Stevens, & VanItallie, 1999). Excessive amounts of fat can prove dangerous as the condition has a very high comorbidity rate with other long term health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and cancer (Pi-Sunyer, 1993). Numerous examples of media, medical journals and educational literature concerning obesity refer to the condition as a disease, with an increasing use of the word ‘Epidemic’ to describe the somewhat recent surge of obesity cases in western societies (Boero, 2007), however there is little material available that offers evidence for obesity meeting specification for disease. Instead it has been proposed that obesity is alternatively a risk factor for developing other potentially harmful diseases, influenced by a variety of other factors i.e. genetics, cultural ideals and biological impairments.

According to the Boores (1977) Disease is defined as; "A type of internal state which is either an impairment ...

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...ain: gluttony or sloth?.BMJ: British Medical Journal, 311(7002), 437.

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