Will obesity soon be classified as an independent disease?

Will obesity soon be classified as an independent disease?

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Overweight diseases should be reclassified

Being overweight, also known as obesity or obesity, is a condition that increases your risk of more than 60 complications. Nevertheless, medical practitioners worldwide disagree as to whether overweight should count as an independent disease. A team of health experts is now proposing a new system for classifying obesity diseases.

Researchers from the Obesity Society, the world's leading specialist in researching, treating and preventing obesity, are proposing a new classification system for obesity in order to better classify it as an illness. The pathological physiology, body mass index (BMI) and the presence and severity of complications should play a role. The system was recently introduced in the "Obesity" journal.

Obesity should be classified more precisely

According to the researchers, the new system should provide a comprehensive basis for clinical intervention as well as individualized treatment goals and a personalized medical approach. This is to specify more precisely what is treated and why.

Give new impulses

"Hopefully, the coding will provide impulses for better access for patients to evidence-based treatments," explains Dr. med. W. Timothy Garvey. He is a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Director of the Diabetes Research Center at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

Current diagnoses are weak and inaccurate

The researchers criticize that the diagnosis of obesity is currently only based on the BMI. However, this does not provide any indication of the possible and already occurring effects on the health of the person concerned. The ICD code currently used only gives the opportunity to diagnose “obesity due to excessive calories”. In the opinion of the Obesity Society, this is not medically sensible and also does not reflect the pathogenesis of obesity.

Inadequacies promote wrong views

"These shortcomings contribute to the fact that sufferers do not have access to evidence-based therapies," emphasizes Garvey. In addition, this promotes a low public acceptance of obesity as a chronic illness. Both the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) and the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) support the Obesity Society's initiative.

According to professional associations, there will be a change

"It is increasingly recognized worldwide that the BMI and other simple metrics of obesity do not exactly reflect the complexity of the disease or the circumstances of those affected," explains the nutritionist. It is time for obesity to enter the era of precision medicine, adds author Gema Frühbeck, "with new classification systems based on functionally defined endpoints".

More precision and nuance required

"It is crucial to adjust the intensity of the therapy to the severity and pathophysiology of the disease," emphasizes Karl Nadolsky from the research team. The researchers propose “Obesity-based Chronic Disease (ABCD)” as a new umbrella term for diseases that are based on severe overweight. The associated ICD coding structure supports the clinical efforts to make individual diagnoses with more precision and nuance.

Obesity - an image without a frame

"The framework offers a well-organized opportunity to help practitioners and payers conceptualize obesity beyond a faulty framework," says Professor Dr. Jamy Ard. However, this more advanced approach would require a significant amount of education and public relations to change the behavior of medical professionals and payers. You can find further information on the clinical picture in the article: Obesity - Treatment and Causes. (Vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • W. Timothy Garvey Jeffrey I. Mechanick: Proposal for a Scientifically Correct and Medically Actionable Disease Classification System (ICD) for Obesity; in: Obesity, 2020,
  • The Obesity Society: Researchers propose new disease classification system for obesity (published: February 24th, 2020),

Video: Should Obesity Be A Disease? (July 2022).


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