The American Medical Association has voted to classify obesity as a disease.
The vote on Tuesday, effectively means that 78 million adults and 12 million children will now be defined as having a medical condition in need of treatment.
That designation is likely to step up pressure on health insurance companies to reimburse medical staff who spend time working with obese patients.
At Wausau's Bridge Community Health Clinic, Nurse Practitioner Nancy Javor works with patients who often have complications, as a result of obesity.
"Heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, there are a host of other problems that come with being obese," says Javor.
She adds that prevention is the key and that comes through education.
Bridge Clinic encourages patients to take part in community garden plots to grow healthy foods and to take advantage of education programs on food preparation and exercise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that obesity-related illnesses cost about $150 billion dollars a year, in this country.