ADA has long called for designating obesity as a disease, said registered dietitian and ADA spokesperson Katherine Tallmadge. People deserve help in addressing this condition that threatens their lives.
ADAs official position is that obesity is a complex, chronic disease state with genetic, physiological, psychological, metabolic and environmental influences. Treatment and prevention strategies alike are needed to thoroughly address the obesity epidemic in our country, Tallmadge said.
ADA believes strongly that nutrition assessment, counseling and intervention by expert dietetics professionals is the best long-term strategy for prevention and treatment of obesity, Tallmadge said.
The change in language regarding Medicare and obesity will help speed the process toward both Medicare reimbursement and private insurance coverage for obesity treatment provided by dietetics professionals, Tallmadge said. We are uniquely qualified to provide people with the highest-quality nutrition and weight-loss counseling for obesity.
A number of studies, including one conducted by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, have documented the value of medical nutrition therapy provided by registered dietitians in treating and managing conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease, all of which are related to obesity.
In recent years, Congress has amended Medicare legislation to allow beneficiaries to consult with registered dietitians for treatment of diabetes and kidney disease. Congress also recently expanded Medicare coverage to offer medical nutrition therapy as a strategy for disease prevention and management.
The evidence shows that medical nutrition therapy works and is cost-effective, both for individuals and the health-care system as a whole, Tallmadge said.
ADA believes that dietetics professionals, together with such health-care professionals as physicians, nurses, psychologists, exercise physiologists, pharmacists and others, must work to identify people at risk for obesity, create awareness, teach appropriate nutrition and exercise strategies and skills and address environmental contributors to obesity and overweight at all stages of the life span.