Monday, August 21, 2023

The War Against Disease: Obesity Edition

10 years ago the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease.  This interesting piece surveys the progress and challenges of the past decade.  Many important lessons here for the field of geroscience.  A sample from the article:

Obesity is a significant public health issue in the United States. More than 42% of American adults and 20% of American youth have obesity (). Another 30% of adults and 16% of youth are classified as overweight, placing them at increased risk of developing obesity in the future (). The impact of obesity is notable. Obesity is associated with increased risk for numerous diseases and premature morbidity, poorer health-related quality of life, and significant economic costs (). The prevalence and costs of obesity are only expected to grow in the coming years. For example, it is predicted that over one half of the world’s population will have overweight or obesity by 2035 and the economic impact will exceed $4 trillion ().

....While we have arguably entered a new phase of possibilities for pharmacotherapeutic treatment of obesity, anti-obesity medication use remains low (1%–3%) (). Multiple drivers contribute to low usage. Cost is a significant barrier, particularly for the newer anti-obesity medications, which have an exorbitantly high out-of-pocket cost in the United States of over $1,000/month. While a few insurers cover these newer medications ()—a development that seems unlikely to have occurred had the AMA and other similar organizations not recognized obesity as a disease—the vast majority do not, meaning interested patients are left no choice but to pay out-of-pocket, try lower cost alternatives, or defer treatment. Additionally, as is the case with medications for most chronic conditions, medication use needs to be sustained to provide continued benefit. Thus, the long-term financial costs of staying on the newest medications is prohibitive for many.