Last updated on: 1/18/2010 | Author:

Morgan Downey, JD Biography

Former Executive Director of the American Obesity Association (AOA)
NC to the question "Is Obesity a Disease?"

“The scientific approach would be well suited to answering the question ‘is obesity a disease?’ rather than ‘should we consider obesity a disease?,’ were the former question answerable.

However… the former question is ill posed and does not admit an answer. This is not because of a lack of agreement or understanding about obesity but rather because of a lack of a clear, specific, widely accepted, and scientifically applicable definition of ‘disease’ that allows one to objectively and empirically determine whether specific conditions are diseases.”

“Obesity as a Disease: A White Paper on Evidence and Arguments Commissioned by the Council of The Obesity Society,” Obesity, Apr. 24, 2008

[Editor’s Note: Mr. Downey confirmed his Pro position in a Feb. 10, 2010 email to and directed to his website that stated the following about obesity as a disease.]

“Obesity is the most prevalent, fatal, recurring chronic disease of our lifetime. It is increasing at alarming rates not only in the United States but worldwide.”

“About,” Downey Obesity Report website (accessed Feb. 10, 2010)

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Policy Advisor, STOP Obesity Alliance, George Washington University School Public Health and Health Services, Apr. 2009-present
  • Publisher & Editor, Downey Obesity Report website, 2009-present
  • Consultant specializing in advocacy, obesity, health care, non-profit management, Oct. 2008-present
  • Member, Steering Committee, Coalition to Prevent Deep-Vein Thrombosis
  • Executive Vice President, The Obesity Society (TOS), 2006-2008
  • Director, American Society for Bariatric Surgery, Washington Office, 2004-2006
  • Executive Director, American Obesity Association (AOA), 1996-2006
  • Executive Director, National Foundation for Brain Research, 1989-1999
  • Led the National Coalition for Research on Neurological and Communicative Disorders (NCR), 1998-1996
  • Director of Government and Legal Affairs, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), 1977-1989
  • JD, Georgetown University Law Center, 1971
  • BA, History, Fairfield University, 1968
  • Conducted a forum “What Should the Next Administration Do About Obesity?” co-sponsored by the STOP Obesity Alliance and the National Journal, 2007
  • Organized conferences through AOA on obesity as a public policy issue, 1999, 2000, 2001
  • Lobbied the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and Medicare (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) to implement policies accepting obesity as a disease