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Contributed by Holly B. Perzy, MD, MMM, FAAP, FACP, DABOM | Department Chair of Internal Medicine/Pediatrics

Obesity was first recognized as a disease in 1948 by the World Health Organization and in 2013 by The American Medical Association. Obesity is one of the most common chronic diseases in the U.S, affecting more than one-third of U.S. adults and over 14 million children and adolescents.

The Definition of Obesity

Obesity is defined by the World Health Organization as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health, with a body mass index (BMI) over 25 considered overweight and over 30 obese.

Bias and Stigma

Obesity has long been a topic of bias and stigma because many people (including nearly half of healthcare professionals) think that it is due to a lack of self-discipline, poor diet, and little or no exercise.

Changing this view is critical for many reasons:
  • People with chronic obesity tend to delay medical care due to stigma (judgment and shame).
  • Healthcare professionals may have unconscious bias that affects diagnosis and treatment.
  • Prevention, treatment, and research are valuable areas of focus that are gaining support in the healthcare community and public.

At MetroHealth, we are addressing the bias around obesity by treating it seriously and ensuring patients are treated with the respect and quality of care they deserve. We understand that obesity is a disease, not a choice.

Causes of Obesity

There are many causes of obesity, such as:
  • Genetics
  • Access to proper nutrition
  • Hormones
  • Medications, like contraceptives, antidepressants, and steroids
  • Environment (family, culture)
  • And even the amount of sleep you get!

Should I Worry if I’m Obese?

We worry about patients with obesity because there are 236 other diseases that are either a result of obesity or worsened by it, thirteen of which are cancers.

These include:
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Sleep Apnea
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Depression
  • Breast, Kidney, Liver and Colon Cancer

Our Solutions

We have many programs and treatment options, including:
  • Weight management program providing education, support, and individual plans for proper nutrition, exercise and behavioral modifications.
  • Weight loss medications for those who qualify, including pills and injectables, such as Ozempic.
  • Weight loss surgery, specifically gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery.
  • Weight loss support groups, such as STRIDES or Steps To Reach Individual Diet and Exercise Solutions.

We also started the MATCH clinic for children and adults, which stands for Metabolic And Transitional Care for Health, where we can look at the entire family. This clinic is available at our Buckeye and Middleburg Heights locations.

“A person with obesity deserves the same respect and compassionate healthcare as anyone else,” says Holly B. Perzy, MD, MMM, FAAP, FACP, DABOM and Chair, Department of Internal Medicine-Pediatrics at MetroHealth.

For more information call 216-778-7433

or visit

Holly B. Perzy, MD, MMM, FAAP, FACP, DABOM

Department Chair of Internal Medicine-Pediatrics