Summit push for obesity to be defined as a disease

Obesity Australia chair Professor John Funder opened the two-day Obesity Summit in Canberra with the rallying cry that, until obesity was classified as a disease, advances in the management of the epidemic in Australia will languish.

“It is associated with diabetes and heart disease, and they are diseases,” he said. 

“GP’s don’t know how to deal with it because it doesn’t have an appropriate Medicare number.

“If it had an appropriate Medicare number all the channels for treatment and management of overweight and obesity, which includes bariatric surgery and weight loss programs, would be on the public health system, and so available to everyone, not just the few who currently can afford it.”

New US guidelines advise prescribing patients a diet that cuts out 500 or more calories a day, an exercise plan that gets patients moving at least 150 minutes each week and behavioural counselling to