According to the federal government, obesity is now a disease. That means federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will no longer routinely deny coverage for people who pay for legitimate weight loss therapies, reports That feds' decision is expected to lead private health insurers, which typically use Medicare rules to pattern their decisions on coverage, to follow suit.

Groups that work to help obese Americans deal with their weight problems applauded the new policy. Meanwhile, others interpreted it as a federal rejection of the notion of personal responsibility.

“This is the only disease I'm familiar with that you can solve by regularly taking long walks and keeping your mouth shut,” says Rick Berman, executive director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, a food-industry-funded advocacy group, said in a statement. “It's terrible to start using taxpayer money like this when there are other legitimate diseases that need to be addressed.”