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Published on June 21, 2013

Mercy Health System Applauds AMA Vote Declaring Obesity a Disease 

One-Third of American Adults Are Obese 

June 21, 2013 (Conshohocken, PA) - Prashanth Ramachandra, MD, Director of Mercy Bariatrics at Mercy Fitzgerald and Mercy Philadelphia Hospital has long recognized obesity as a chronic and complex disorder associated with a variety of co-morbid conditions. Now that the American Medical Association (AMA) has voted to declare obesity a disease, the 78 million American adults and 12 million children suffering from obesity have been elevated above the status of a health condition to a medical disease requiring treatment.

“Mercy Bariatrics has been addressing and providing treatment for obese patients, especially those who also suffer from medical conditions such as sleep apnea, diabetes, high blood pressure and other metabolic problems for years,” says Dr. Ramachandra. “The AMA’s decision will help others in the medical community to recognize obesity as an urgent chronic condition and encourage those who are obese to seek treatment.”

The AMA’s action encourages the medical community do more to help affected patients get useful treatment. It makes diagnosis and treatment of obesity a physician's professional obligation and calls on primary care physicians to raise weight concerns with obese patients.

The new AMA designation follows a 30-year increase in Americans' weight.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, treatment of such obesity-related illnesses as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers drives up the nation's medical bill by more than $150 billion a year. Projected increases in the obesity rate could boost that figure by an additional $550 billion over the next 20 years, a recent Duke University study said.

“We hope that the more widespread recognition of obesity as a disease will result in an increase in obese patients seeking help and more medical professionals taking obesity seriously by offering counseling, intervention and treatment,” says Dr. Ramachandra. “For clinically obese patients, treatment is not always as simple as eating less and exercising more. Once obesity is established, there are physical mechanisms that make it difficult for people to lose weight.”

AMA board member Dr. Patrice Harris, praised the measure: "Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans."

Mercy Bariatrics is an award-winning comprehensive program that has helped more than 850 people at Mercy Fitzgerald and Mercy Philadelphia successfully lose weight and sustain a healthier lifestyle. It has earned multiple distinctions, including Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence ®, Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery® and Aetna Institute of Quality® Bariatric Surgery Facility designations at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital. Mercy Bariatrics is also available at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital in West Philadelphia. To learn more about weight loss surgery options, call 1.855.LESS YOU (1.855.537.7968) or visit www.mercybariatrics.org.

Ann D’Antonio

Vice President, Marketing and Communications
610.567.5334
adantonio@mercyhealth.org
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610.731.1481
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Mercy Health System
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Conshohocken, PA 19428

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