The American Medical Association (AMA), the nation’s largest organization of doctors, has officially designated obesity as a disease that requires medical treatment and prevention. The classification could change the way doctors and insurance companies treat and cover obese patients.
"The AMA's decision is an important step forward, and recognizes obesity as a serious and chronic condition that must be addressed as a priority for treatment in the medical field," said Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Rudd Center Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives.
"Overall, this is a positive change because it will provide much needed resources and attention to the topic of obesity, said Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Rudd Center Acting Director. “At the same time, it is important to remember that BMI alone does not tell the whole story about any one individual's health status. Health professionals will still need to assess diet quality and physical fitness to determine treatment recommendations for each patient who has a BMI in the obese range." Read more.
Public health campaigns have emerged across the country to promote behaviors that can help reduce America’s waistline, but several of these campaigns have been criticized for reinforcing stigmatization of obese individuals. Research shows that stigmatization of overweight and obese individuals can exacerbate health effects already associated with obesity, impair weight-loss efforts, and potentially lead to increased weight gain.
In a new study that examined how the public perceives these campaigns, Rudd Center researchers found that campaigns that are viewed as stigmatizing are no more likely to instill motivation for improving lifestyle behavior compared to neutral campaigns. The study was published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and highlights the need for careful selection of language and visual content used in obesity-related health campaigns. Read more.
Researchers at the Rudd Center have quantified the number of food and beverage ads viewed by Hispanic youth on both Spanish- and English-language television. Regardless of language, the majority of ads promote nutritionally poor products, such as fast food, sugary cereals, and candy. The study was published in JAMA Pediatrics, and is the first of its kind.
Using data obtained from Nielsen, a media research company, researchers examined advertising viewed by Hispanic and non-Hispanic youth in 2010. On average, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic youth saw 12-15 television food ads every day and most of the ads were for fast food, breakfast cereals, restaurants and candy. For Hispanic youth, 75 percent or more of these ads appeared on English-language television. Despite watching similar amounts of television, Hispanic youth viewed fewer food and beverage ads than their non-Hispanic peers because those ads appear less frequently on Spanish-language television. Read more.