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Monday 21st May 2018

Tackling obesity

30th October 2007

Writing in the Independent on Sunday, the overweight Dominic Lawson suggests stigmatising obesity may be more effective than seeking a cure for it.


The Foresight Project’s report Tackling Obesities: Future Choices indicates that by 2050, 60% of men, 50% of women and about 25% of children could be obese.

But we have to be careful we are not falling for another self-serving health scare, although while Body Mass Index (BMI) ratings are not as reliable as they could be, the evidence of our own eyes tells us there is a problem.

The Foresight Project stress obesity could cost an extra £45.5bn a year, though this figure is almost certainly rubbish. They will have included in "obesity-related" diseases all cardio-vascular conditions, even though many people who are not obese will suffer them.

On the other hand, it's true that the NHS - and therefore taxpayers - will have to provide the funds to treat "obesity-related diseases."

The same argument would not apply under an insurance-funded health service. I'm not certain, however, that most people would look after themselves better if they had to bear all or part of the cost of the repair work.

Perhaps this is why The Foresight Project demands a societal approach but with a third of the nation's children never experiencing eating with others around a table, if it wants to examine "societal" approaches, then it must address the way the family has evolved over the past 50 years.

One word which did not appear in the Foresight Project's list of possible responses to the "obesity crisis" is stigma. This is a deeply unfashionable term, but it is vital.


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