Posted: Jun 19, 2013 10:10 PM by MTN News
BILLINGS - Once viewed as a health problem, obesity is now recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association. After years of research, there is now enough evidence to prove the cause of obesity. "It really is that people feel hungry beyond where their body needs the calories and so there are several different hormonal mechanisms that get discoordinated to result in obesity, it's more than just being undisciplined," said Dr. Walter Medlin, Billings Clinic Metabolic Surgeon.
Obesity in adults is declared as anyone with a body mass index of 30 or higher. Across the state of Montana, 23-percent of adults fall under the obese category. In Yellowstone County, that number is higher at 26-percent. Obesity follows the same pattern in the younger population. 10.4-percent of children across the state are classified as obese and 15.4 percent of children in Yellowstone County have the disease.
Medical doctors predict this new recognition could change the attitude of those suffering from the disease. "I think if they see more evidence that this is not just something that they need to suffer alone or try to white knuckle their way through boot camp or extreme diets that are effective in the short term, but not durable and don't last, then they're more likely to seek treatment," Dr. Medlin said.
Montana is one of three states in the country with a Medicaid program that does not cover care for obesity. Increasing coverage to a standard care program would change that. "As law changes and as coverage changes, an operation is a very important part of overall treatment but it's not the answer all alone. People do need to be on lifelong follow up and they still need to do regular exercise and make reasonable food choices. This is not the easy way out, for most people it's the only way out."