ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The American Medical Association decided this week at an annual meeting that it will now classify obesity as a disease.

A local family doctor welcomes this decision. St. Louis University’s family and community medicine specialist Dr. Christine Jacobs says obesity is typically treated like a lifestyle problem with many treatments not covered by insurance.

She says this decision could mean more insurance coverage of bariatric surgery and weight loss medications.

“I would anticipate that perhaps after this ruling has been considered, that insurance companies might lower their threshold for some of those procedures,” Jacobs says.

One third of Americans are obese, with the condition leading to more than 50 other illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Jacobs says she hopes this classification will cause doctors to intervene earlier and more aggressively with patients.

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