Doctors group treats obesity as disease, opposes marketing energy drinks to kids


Also on Wednesday, legislation was introduced in both chambers of Congress that would allow Medicare to cover additional obesity treatments and require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to promote behavioral counseling for obesity.

The AMA's decision "is very helpful for the Senator’s obesity treatment bill because it draws additional attention to our nation's obesity epidemic and the need for a comprehensive approach to treating it," a spokeswoman for Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperSenate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote Senate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Biden gets involved to help break Senate logjam MORE (D-Del.) said in an email.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP senator defends Cheney, Murkowski after Trump rebuke Trump promises to travel to Alaska to campaign against Murkowski GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill MORE (R-Alaska) and Reps. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindFloyd family attorney knocks qualified immunity for officers Johnson says leaving office after 2022 'probably my preference now' Sole GOP vote on House police reform bill says he 'accidentally pressed the wrong voting button' MORE (D-Wis.) are also behind the legislation, called the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act.

Former Agriculture Secretaries Dan Glickman and Ann Veneman said in a statement that the obesity decision would have "several important impacts" for national policy. The AMA decision could affect reimbursement policies around obesity care, they said, as well as increase prevention, treatment and doctor-patient interaction.

Lawmakers also praised the AMA's decision to push for a ban on the marketing of energy drinks to children under the age of 18.

In a statement, Sen. Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D-W.Va.) called the announcement "a wake-up call." He added, "We aren’t doing a good enough job of helping our children make healthy choices."

Rockefeller has previously asked leaders of major energy drink companies including Rockstar and Red Bull to disclose their marketing practices aimed at children and teenagers.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement, "Teenagers are aggressively targeted by energy drink companies, despite a growing body of scientific evidence that raises serious questions about the safety of these products."

The American Beverage Association, a trade group, opposed the AMA's decision.

Spokeswoman Maureen Beach said in a statement that most energy drinks contain small amounts of caffeine and "voluntarily display total caffeine amounts – from all sources – on their packages, as well as an advisory statement indicating that the product is not intended (or recommended) for children, pregnant or nursing women, or persons sensitive to caffeine, and do not sell or market energy drinks in K-12 schools."

In addition to the obesity and energy drink policies, the AMA also voted to recommend that compounding pharmacies, which make medications in small batches, be subject to state oversight, oppose a Food and Drug Administration policy preventing gay men from donating blood and disagree with discrimination of patients based on genetic information.