There are many serious diseases a person can contract throughout their lifetime. Diabetes, cancer, HIV and the list goes on. These are diseases a person would never wish to have and sometimes they are incurable. However, just this week a new one was added to the list by the American Medical Association: Obesity.

Even though I agree obesity is a problem in today’s society I think the numbers to qualify as “obese” are a bit off. 30 pounds over your ideal body weight makes a person overweight/obese and 40 plus pounds makes a person morbidly obese. This would classify over 90.5 million people in the United States obese, all in need of treatment to fix it. [1]

Some may say obesity is caused by a genetic inheritance, lack of income or poor economic status; and treatment is desperately needed to fix the problem, but I simply beg to differ. I truly believe that obesity stems from the abstinence of 3 things: willpower, education and choice.

First of all, a person must have the willpower to begin exercising and watching their food consumption types and amounts. Moderate exercise and eating a balanced diet will help immensely. Simple swaps from soda to water or sweet potatoes over French fries can make an incredible difference in caloric value. Some people simply do not have the will power to say no to high fat foods. They might briefly think of the consequence, but ignore it and indulge anyway.

For people that are morbidly obese; weight loss treatment may be a smart life-saving move, but for the younger generations, our government should be working on obesity prevention. There have been many changes in public schools but these initiatives need to be occurring more often and in the home. Often times parents think a food may be healthier simply due to its package marketing, but in reality they are not the “super foods” (good fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables) at all. The internet has made food education more accessible but some people are still confused by what healthy foods can fit into their budget or what an actual portion size looks like. Portion control is a large factor in obesity because many people simply eat more than they think they do.

Everyone has choices in life and some people are simply more driven than others, but at the end of the day eating health foods over junk food is a choice. Laying around on the couch on the weekend instead of going out to play basketball with some friends is a choice. But in the same respect everyone has a right to choose what to eat, there is really no way to stop that. There are also many people who eat junk food every day who aren’t obese or even overweight.

Obesity as a disease may make treatment more accessible but it will come at a price for tax payers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2008 the medical costs of obesity averaged around $147 billion . Some people think that weight loss surgery is the answer, so they continue to consume the same foods and not focus on changing their habits. Weight loss surgery is not a permanent change unless the person works on their habits and relationship with food. There has been many cases where people have gained all of their weight back and plus, after weight loss surgery. This won’t be the case for those who obtain smart habits prior to surgery as a preventative measure.

As I write this I reflect back on my own weight loss struggles throughout my life. I wish as a young child I would have been more active so I wouldn’t have to work so hard at it today. There’s times where I find myself extremely motivated and other times when I simply indulge, slack on workouts and just want to “veg” out on the couch. But at the end of the day I can’t blame anyone but myself. I know the right tools for success but I have to often dig deep to find that will power. I by no means believe everyone should be the same size either. Everyone is built differently and I do think that obesity as a disease does promote the idea that there is an “ideal” body weight for everyone, but who decides that the government? I strongly believe, as long as the person is healthy internally it doesn’t matter if they are a size 0 or 18.