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Obesity Now Recognized As A Disease By The Ama


Seems the VA can on occasion consider obesity merely as a "symptom"* and perhaps even the type of symptom that the VA alleges is caused by the Veteran's own willful misconduct of overeating or being inactive so it can deny the claim. However, since the American Medical Association ( AMA ) recently in June of 2013 has officially declared that "obesity is a disease", might that allow disabled veterans whose service connected condition(s) led to excessive weight gain to now find more success claiming obesity as a ratable secondary medical condition or a disease aggravated by the Veteran's service connected condition(s)?


Service connection is not warranted for obesity. Claiming
service connection for obesity amounts to claiming service
connection for a symptom, rather than for an underlying
disease or injury which may have caused the symptom. In this
respect, obesity, in and of itself, is not a disability for
which service connection may be granted.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
(Federal Circuit) has defined "injury" as "damage
inflicted on the body by an external force." See Terry v.
Principi, 340 F.3d 1378, 1384 (Fed. Cir. 2003), citing
Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary 901 (29th Ed. 2000).
Thus, obesity caused by overeating or lack of exercise is the
result of the veteran's own behavior, and as such is not an
"injury" as defined for VA purposes. See Terry v.
Principi, 340 F.3d 1378, 1384 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (defining
"injury" as "damage inflicted on the body by an external

The Federal Circuit also defined "disease" as "any
deviation from or interruption of the normal structure or
function of a part, organ, or system of the body." Terry,
340 F.3d at 1384, citing Dorland's at 511. Obesity that is
not due to an underlying pathology cannot be considered to be
due to "disease," defined as "any deviation from or
interruption of the normal structure or function of a part,
organ or system of the body." Id. The body's normal
storage of calories for future use represents the body
working at what it is designed to do. It is well settled
that symptoms alone, without a finding of an underlying
disorder, cannot be service-connected. See Sanchez-Benitez
v. Principi, 259 F.3d 1356 (Fed. Cir. 2001)." - from a BVA 2009 Decision


"Obesity or being overweight, a particularity of body type,
alone, is not considered a disability for which service
connection may be granted. See generally 38 C.F.R. Part 4
(VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities) (2009) (does not
contemplate a separate disability rating for obesity).
Rather, applicable VA regulations use the term "disability"
to refer to the average impairment in earning capacity
resulting from diseases or injuries encountered as a result
of or incident to military service. Allen v. Brown, 7 Vet.
App. 439, 448 (1995); Hunt v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 292, 296
(1991); 38 C.F.R. § 4.1 (2009). The question is thus whether
the current obesity is a disability-i.e. a condition causing
impairment in earning capacity. In this case, there is no
such evidence.

The veteran has not asserted that obesity causes impairment
of earning capacity; instead he asserts that his obesity has
caused other disabilities to manifest. There is also no
other evidence that the claimed obesity is a disability.
Inasmuch as the Veteran does not have a disability manifested
by obesity and obesity is not a disease or disability for
which service connection may be granted, the Board concludes
that obesity was not incurred in or aggravated by service and
may not be presumed to have been so incurred. This claim is
not in relative equipoise; therefore, the Veteran may not be
afforded the benefit of the doubt in the resolution thereof.
Rather, as a preponderance of the evidence is against the
claim, it must be denied. 38 U.S.C.A. § 5107(b) (West 2002)" - from a 2010 BVA Decision

But didn't the VA as early as 2006 already characterize obesity as a disease?

"Obesity is a complex and chronic disease that develops from an interaction between the individual’s

genotype and the environment." - http://www.healthquality.va.gov/obesity/obe06_final1.pdf

"The AMA's decision essentially makes diagnosis and treatment of obesity a physician's professional obligation." - Los Angeles Times


Edited by militarynurse

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New info on obesity;




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Is DMII a result of obesity or a cause?

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Time for a ourt precedent setting case. Any Volunteers?

Here we go.

If is it s recognized disease, the VA will have no hoice but to implement this disease in their system.

I see a lot of future DMII claims being filoed and awarded based on this.


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How does the VA treat obesity? I know they sent me to the dietitian at the VA who told me to put equal in my coffee and to cut out fatty foods....duh. We all know what we should not eat, but if you are not young any more and have problems with mobility there has to be something else. The VA uses obesity as a weapon to beat vets over the head with and blame all their problems on will power. I was a thin younger adult and when I got stove in I gained some weight and became clinically obese.


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Alcoholism and overeating are very similar diseases. Both deal with getting a higher blood sugar level, and both are methods of self medication for depression and other problems.

Alcoholism and overeating both deal with the adrenalin gland and the pancreas. Depression will ask for more blood sugar and when it seems we can’t get any, from a stubborn pancreas, the adrenalin gland (anger) goes to work. When the depressive can’t get enough blood sugar (fear) then we turn to alcohol or food. After we get more blood sugar than we can use the pancreas starts secreting insulin.

Problem is living with anger. The adrenalin (anger) works fine for getting things accomplished in short burst, but the anger keeps us away from other people because of its consequences. The isolation leads to depression. It is kind of a vicious cycle that we depressives live in.

Forgot to mention that over working the pancreas, in this way, leads to hypo glycemia and diabetes in some.

Medications used, to curb these problems, also leads to isolation. I think there is at least a secondary SC here somewhere.

Just my opinion.

Edited by Stretch

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