John Maszinski
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Illinois Doctors Protecting Cheerleaders and Obese Patients in One Swoop!
Illinois Doctors Protecting Cheerleaders and Obese Patients in One Swoop!
ISMS-backed public health proposals instigate national action

Chicago, IL - The Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) brought much needed attention and action on two public health topics at the just concluded meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA). In 2012, Illinois' physician delegates asked the AMA to reclassify "obesity" as a chronic disease state. After a one-year study, the AMA took action to reclassify obesity and how the condition is viewed clinically. A second ISMS initiative introduced at this year's meeting calls for the AMA to designate cheerleading a "sport" and thus advocate for health protection for these athletes. AMA delegates agreed that more study on designating cheerleading as a sport is needed and will conduct an analysis.

"We are very pleased the AMA acted on the two proposals we spearheaded," said ISMS President Eldon A. Trame, M.D. "Obesity is a disease. Period. It's time to get serious with improving our patients' lives, removing the stigma obese patients face, and improving how insurance companies cover obesity interventions. We must also better engage our patients in their treatment and understanding of obesity. A sound diet and exercise are what I recommend for all my patients, but for some individuals more effort is necessary to achieve a healthy weight. The AMA's action will help doctors and patients in this effort."

The resolution ISMS introduced in 2012 was echoed by another obesity proposal brought to the AMA this year by seven national medical specialty organizations seeking the reclassification of obesity. Both the report (stemming from the ISMS proposal) and the specialty resolution were approved by the AMA, reinforcing a strong standard for how obesity is viewed.

On the issue of cheerleading, Dr. Trame said, "ISMS is encouraged that the AMA will be looking further into safeguarding these athletes." Roughly half of U.S. state high school governing bodies recognize cheerleading as a sport. For students athletics this usually means requirements such as a mandatory sports physicals and training coaches on injury care requirements. "Fortunately, Illinois is one of the states where student cheerleaders are treated with the same standards as athletes in other sports," commented Dr. Trame. He then added that, "We support a national standard for student athletes and for competitive club cheerleading programs here that fall outside the auspices of school-run cheer programs. During the AMA debate chilling stories were told about cheerleading-related accidents. We need to do all we can to protect our athletes."

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