What Does Obesity Say About Society?

John Atkinson says obesity is almost exclusively a disease of poverty, particularly in children, while Kate Halliwell defends the food and drink industries.

I read with interest your editorial on the failures in obesity management in the UK (4 April). I would suggest that the problem is wider than the scope addressed. Obesity is not simply correlated with poverty. In children, it is almost exclusively a disease of poverty. We simply do not see affluent children suffering in this way. Given that the rates in children are already higher than in adults and climbing, this must be addressed to prevent a social and economic tragedy in the future.

The magic bullet problem is not restricted to jabs and pills. Obesity surgery – taking away the patient’s free will to compel them to eat a severely calorie restricted diet via surgical ablation of parts of the gastrointestinal tract – is an objectively monstrous intervention and yet has slipped under the ethical radar and is widely accepted because, to some degree, it can work (with many, many caveats).

The US, with its myriad societal problems leading to an even greater obesity problem than the rest of the world, is now leading the charge with multiple professional associations trumpeting the need for an urgent rollout of obesity surgery for adolescents and children. There appears to be no recognition of the societal crisis in the US at the root of this.

Excerpted from The Guardian

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