Obesity is Not a Disease – Video with Marc David

There is so much talk these days about America’s “obesity epidemic” and what we, as a society, should do about it. It’s true that obesity rates for both adults and children have been on the rise in the U.S., and this has prompted a lot of discussion from well-meaning professionals and other observers about how best to help people get rid of excess weight. But as we can clearly see, the strategies that have been offered so far are not working, and the problem is only getting worse. In this honest and straight-shooting new video from #IPEtv, Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, explains why our current approach will never heal the core issues that lead to obesity, and offers an alternative way of looking at obesity that can lead to real change.

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Below is a transcript of this week’s video:

Greetings friends, this is Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Today’s Topic: Obesity is Not a Disease

Well, as you probably heard, the American Medical Association has decided to clearly label obesity as a disease. Oddly enough, this new strategy actually went against the recommendations of a special committee that was formed to explore this very topic.

You’ll likely hear all sorts of official fanfare of how this is such a wise and generous move because now the doctors and insurance companies will put more emphasis on this condition in order to minimize its negative effects.

Don’t believe it for a second.

When was the last time insurance companies were loving on you when it came to your health? When was the last time they truly advocated for your well being?

What you may not know, is that there is absolute widespread agreement that the very measure used to determine obesity – BMI – also known as body mass index – is absolutely flawed and inaccurate. No one really debates this simple truth. BMI does a poor job of measuring your overall lean muscle tissue and body fat composition.

Here’s what I would like to suggest:

Obesity is not a disease.

It’s a symptom.

This does not lessen the importance of addressing obesity. In fact, it strengthens it.

A symptom means this: something that points to something else.

Are you surprised?
Does that make any sense?
Let me explain what I mean:

A headache is always a symptom. It’s not a disease. The symptom called headache is pointing to something else. It might point to the fact that you had a concussion while playing a sport. It might point to the fact that you have too much caffeine in your diet. It might point to the fact that you have a toxin or mold in your home. It might point to a food allergy. It might point to stress. It might point to lack of sleep. It might point to eyestrain. It might point to personal and emotional issues at home or at work. There are endless possibilities here. I think you get the picture.

Extra weight is always pointing somewhere else.


Extra weight might be pointing to the fact that we’re eating too much poor quality food. It might be pointing to the fact that we eat too much sugar. Or too many soft drinks. It could point to a thyroid issue. It could point to adrenal problems. It could point to diabetes. It could point to a brain tumor. It can point to issues that are originating in the digestive tract, or to environmental toxins and pollution. It could be related to the use of certain prescription drugs – especially antidepressants. And so much more when it comes to nutritional and metabolic factors.

And we haven’t even talked about the personal and emotional dimensions of what excess weight might be pointing to. Extra weight can be pointing to an excessive amount of stress in one’s life. Such stress could be related to work, relationship challenges, family issues, financial woes, divorce, death of a loved one, and so much more.

Extra weight can be pointing to the difficulties of navigating raising a family, making money, and living in a world that doesn’t make it easy for us to take care of our own health and well-being.

For all these reasons, obesity is not a disease.

It’s a symptom.

It’s letting us know that there’s something else that needs to be addressed.
It’s letting us know that somehow, life is out of balance because the body is carrying more pounds than it needs to.

Indeed, perhaps one of the biggest places that the symptom called obesity points to is a world out of balance. We tend to look at extra weight as exclusively the problem of the person who has it. But these days, so many newborns are exposed to a mother’s diet in the womb that predisposes them to obesity. And then they pop out of the womb and they’re fed unnatural amounts of junk food, sugar, and poor quality carbohydrate products that masquerade as food – and obesity becomes almost predictable.

This is not so much a personal problem. It’s a collective one. We live in a world where food production has been hijacked by corporations that have no regard for individual health. But they have a high regard for maximizing profits. We live in a world where we’re taught to consume and consume and never stop when it comes to buying things and having things. We live in a world where there is a barrage that happens nonstop day in and day out through advertising and media that’s programming the highly susceptible minds of humans, young and old, to consume foods that almost guarantee weight gain.

Perhaps the American Medical Association should take a nice big stethoscope and put it on the hearts of the leaders of industry and government. Are those hearts beating properly? Are those hearts truly open? Do those hearts have the best interest of those that they’re supposedly meant to serve?

Obesity is not a disease.

It’s our collective bodies screaming at the world that we need a course correction. We need a whole new way of how we treat each other and how we do business on planet Earth.

We don’t need less weight.
What we truly need is more love, more care and concern, and more people waking up to an enlightened way of living.

I hope this was helpful my friends.

To learn more about us please go to psychologyofeating.com

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating offers the most innovative and inspiring professional trainings, public programs, conferences, online events and lots more in the exciting fields of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition! In our premier professional offering – the Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training – you can grow a new career and help your clients in a powerful way with food, body and health. You’ll learn cutting edge skills and have the confidence to work with the most compelling eating challenges of our times: weight, body image, overeating, binge eating, digestion, fatigue, immunity, mood and much more. If you’re focused on your own eating and health, the Institute offers a great selection of one-of-a-kind opportunities to take a big leap forward in your relationship with food. We’re proud to be international leaders in online and live educational events designed to create the breakthroughs you want most. Our public programs are powerful, results oriented, and embrace all of who we are as eaters – body, mind, heart and soul. 

Please email us at info@psychologyofeating.com if you have specific questions and we will be sure to get back to you.

Again that is psychologyofeating.com

This is Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Thanks so much for your time and interest

To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video training series at ipe.tips. You’ll learn about the cutting-edge principles of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition that have helped millions forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health. Lastly, we want to make sure you’re aware of our two premier offerings. Our Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training is an 8 month distance learning program that you can take from anywhere in the world to launch a new career or to augment an already existing health practice. And Transform Your Relationship with Food is our 8 week online program for anyone looking to take a big leap forward with food and body.


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  • Marina Larva

    I loved this one

    • Thank you so much for tuning in, Marina! Warmly, Marc

      • Marina Larva

        I’m referencing it in my thesis ( :

  • MissBeth

    This is great. Thank you for saying it, writing it: obesity is not a disease. I’m a leader in my local TOPS chapter and TOPS international has been quietly pushing (for a few years) the idea that it’s a disease, and I refuse to agree with that. I’m very grateful for the work you do.

  • Cleogrrl

    You’re close, but still framing large bodies as a problem to be fixed. In all your “it may be…” statements, what I hear are your biased speculations based in an unexamined belief that being in a fat body is wrong. The problem – your problem – is size bigotry, not fat bodies.

  • Thanks so much for your comment, MissBeth! Kudos to you for sticking up for what you believe! Warmly, Marc

  • Hi Cleo, Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I honestly do not see large bodies as a problem to be fixed, and I don’t see weight as inherently “bad” – but like everything that shows up in our physical body experience – sometimes weight shows up as a way for the universe or our higher wisdom to get our attention and invite us to explore what we really want, what would really make us happy in our lives. It’s going to be different for each individual. You’ll be the best judge of what feels best for you! Warmly, Marc

    • Cleogrrl

      “… sometimes weight shows up as a way for the universe or our higher wisdom to get our attention and invite us to explore what we really want, what would really make us happy in our lives.”

      This is a philosophical stance based upon, what, exactly? Why weight? Why not height? Eye color? Gender? Any body size?

      Your original essay framed obesity as not a disease – agreed. Then, you framed it as a symptom with lots of speculation. My question is why fat bodies? In a society wherein being fat subjects one to ridicule, abuse, prejudice, and worse, I logically look at any exclusive focus on fat bodies within this cultural context.

      Sometimes weight shows up as the focus because of bias. Just like understanding that labeling an entire class of people with dark skin as problematic – a ‘symptom’ – is racist, your focus on fat people (by the way, which fat people? At what weight? Why that weight?) as living in a ‘symptom’ is suspect.

      • Hi Cleogrrl! You are absolutely right that any body size, any physical condition or characteristic can have things to teach us! This particular post was specifically in response to the announcement about obesity being designated a disease – a position that I don’t find to be helpful. That’s why I’m talking about weight here, but if you browse through the rest of our videos and articles you’ll see that we address many, many aspects of embodiment. Here’s another video where Emily talks about symptoms from some different angles – this might give a little more context: http://psychologyofeating.com/psychology-symptoms-4-psychological-types-video-emily-rosen/ Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts! Warmly, Marc

  • Leanne Gibbons

    Very well said. Thanks

  • I’m honored to hear it, Marina! 🙂 Best wishes on your thesis! Warmly, Marc

  • Gracie

    From my life I would agree. My “obesity” problem is definitely a symptom. I have PTSD from birth trauma and I have come to realize that my weight/eating/lack of exercise is a shield around me, part of my protection mechanism from having to deal with the underlying issues. I always knew the key to weight loss was that it was a mind game, rather then necessarily a discipline issue. I now have found a therapist who I am working with to address the underlying issues and without much conscious effort have dropped 15 pounds in the last 5 weeks. I am loving your all your video’s/blogs etc, they are speaking to me so much, teaching and retraining my mindset. Thank you

    • Thank you for sharing about your journey, Gracie, and for your kind words about our videos! I’m so glad to hear you’ve had a breakthrough with your own weight loss. Warmly, Marc David

About The Author
Marc David

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.