Last updated on: 5/2/2014 | Author: ProCon.org

Marianne J. Legato, MD Biography

Title:
Professor Emerita of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Position:
Not Clearly Pro or Con to the question "Is Obesity a Disease?"
Reasoning:

“Obesity is a complex entity that can have many causes; some are endocrine (like thyroid malfunction or hyperfunctioning of the adrenal gland-Cushing’s syndrome [sic]) but often the condition is from a combination of inactivity and overeating. For others, there are genetic factors that produce a tendency to overweight even with the consumption of what would be for most people an appropriate number of calories.

There is, to be sure, an important emotional component to overeating; often patients do it for comfort, out of habit, from boredom or for combating anxiety. Some use being obese as a defense against rejection: ‘It’s just because I am fat that I am not promoted/have no significant other/have few intimate friendships.’ Overeating for some patients is a lifelong compulsion which is profoundly ingrained into their behavior. Many children are served inappropriate foods in much-too-large portions.

Counseling patients about their weight thus becomes very complex, because establishing the reasons for obesity and then helping patients cope with changing their lifestyle or correcting the illnesses that may be causing their overweight are not easy things for the practicing physician to do. To add to the difficulties, family members, believe it or not, may have an investment in keeping the patient overweight: the husband who becomes uneasy about the improvement in his wife’s appearance, for example. Those family members may actually sabotage or neutralize the patient’s effort to control and correct weight. Society’s idea of what body size is acceptable may also be an important factor: watch British television—many of the female actresses would be classified as overweight by an American physician!

It really doesn’t matter how the AMA or any other organization characterizes ‘obesity’—sorting out the causes and dealing with the incredibly complex task of leading a patient to a healthier and more functional state is not a trivial task. In short, it’s a heterogeneous entity and all too often one of the hardest to correct. Whether the causes are hormonal, genetic or reside in the brain (its reward system or the circuitry that underlies habit, perception of portion size, the choice of food, etc.) is often difficult to sort out.”

Statement to Prevention Magazine, “Is Obesity a Disease? Prevention Experts Weigh In,” www.prevention.com, June 2013

Theoretical Expertise Ranking:
Experts
Individuals with MDs or PhDs, or equivalent advanced degrees in fields relevant to obesity and health. Also top-level government officials (such as foreign leaders, US presidents, Founding Fathers, Supreme Court Justices, members of legislative bodies, cabinet members, military leaders, etc.) with positions relevant to obesity and health.
Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Professor Emerita of Clinical Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medical School
  • Fellow, American College of Physicians
  • Editorial Board Member, Women’s Health in Orthopedics, 2008-present
  • Director, Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine, 2006-present
  • Editor-in-Chief and founder, Gender Medicine, 2004-present
  • Editorial Board Member, JMHG & International Society for Men’s Health and Gender Collaboration, 2004-2006
  • Attending Physician, Lenox Hill Hospital, 2004-present
  • Editorial Board Member, Medicine and Behavior, 1998-present
  • Health Advisor, MORE Magazine, 1998-present
  • Attending Physician, Presbyterian Hospital in the City of New York, 1998-present
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Prevention Magazine, 1997-present
  • Medical Advisor, Ladies’ Home Journal, 1997-present
  • Editorial Board Member, Women’s Health Review, 1997-present
  • Senior Attending Physician, Medicine, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, 1980-present
Education:
  • MD, New York University School of Medicine, 1962
  • AB, Manhattanville College, 1956
Contact Info:
Phone
212-737-5663
Email
gender.medicine@gmail.com
Website
Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine Biography
Other:
  • Professor of Clinical Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, July 1, 1998-unknown
  • Editor-in-Chief and founder, The Journal of Gender-Specific Medicine, 1997-2004
  • Associate Attending Physician, Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital in the City of New York, 1980-1998
  • Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, July 1, 1977-June 30, 1998
  • Associate Physician, Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital in the City of New York, 1977-1980
  • Assistant Physician, Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital in the City of New York, 1973-1977
  • Assistant Professor of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Jan. 1, 1972-June 30, 1977
  • Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, June 1, 1970-Dec. 31, 1971
  • Attending Physician, Medicine, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, 1970-1980
  • Associate, Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 1969-1970
  • Assistant Attending Physician, Medicine, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, 1969-1970
  • Instructor, Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 1968-1969
  • Visiting Fellow, Cardiology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 1965-1968
  • Senior Assistant Resident, Presbyterian Hospital of the City of New York, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, 1964-1965
  • Junior Assistant Resident, Bellevue Hospital First (Columbia) Medical Division, 1963-1964
  • Intern, Bellevue Hospital First (Columbia) Medical Division, 1962-1963
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Is Obesity a Disease?