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Obesity is a disease

Even though many people are living with obesity, it often gets overlooked as a disease and doesn't receive medical care. It is more than just excess weight. When someone has obesity, there are changes that impact the way the body deals with hunger and how it burns calories. Environment, genetics, certain medications, and other complex factors may contribute to excess weight. When you think about your health, weight is important. It's worth having regular conversations with your healthcare professional about it, just as you would about other conditions or concerns.

The Tug-of-War of Weight Management

Why does the weight return? After weight loss, for people with obesity, the body fights to put the weight back on.

The weight loss and weight gain tug-of-war

Weight loss changes the way the body deals with hunger and how it burns calories. After weight loss, metabolism actually slows down, hunger increases, and fullness decreases.1,2

Also after weight loss, the body keeps trying to regain the weight for at least 12 months.1

Knowing that these changes can last so long is news to many people. This information is changing how the medical community approaches weight loss and weight management. Now we know that it is not only about weight loss, but it's also about managing the disease of obesity over time.3

Obesity is recognized as a chronic disease by leading medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Academy of Family Physicians, and The Obesity Society. 4-7


  1. Sumithran P, Prendergast LA, Delbridge E, et al. Long-term persistence of hormonal adaptations to weight loss. N Engl J Med. 2011;365(17): 1597-1604.
  2. Lam YY, Ravussin E. Analysis of energy metabolism in humans: a review of methodologies. Mol Metab. 2016;5(11): 1057-1071.
  3. Jensen MD, Ryan DH, Apovian CM, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS guideline for the management of overweight and obesity in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and The Obesity Society. JACC July 1, 2014; Vol 63(25):2985-3023.
  4. American Medical Association House of Delegates. Recognition of obesity as a disease. Resolution 420 (A-13). http://www.npr.org/documents/2013/jun/ama-resolution-obesity.pdf. Received May 15, 2013. Accessed December 8, 2015.
  5. Mechanick JI, Garber AJ, Handelsman Y, Garvey WT. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists' Position Statement on Obesity and Obesity Medicine. Endocrine Practice. 2012;18:642-648.
  6. McKinney L. Diagnosis and Management of Obesity. American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). https://www.aafp.org/dam/AAFP/documents/patient_care/fitness/obesity-diagnosis-mono.pdf. Published 2013. Accessed August 5, 2015.
  7. Allison DB, Downey M, Atkinson RL, et al. Obesity as a disease: a white paper on evidence and arguments commissioned by the Council of the Obesity Society. Obesity. 2008;16(6):1161-1177.


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