The burden of obesity

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I like to keep emphasising healthy dieting (not dieting to lose weight, necessarily, but just eating right) and exercise in order to maintain a healthy weight. I am guilty of not always following this lecture, but when you have been good, you can allow yourself an occasional treat. Though I will also admit that I can overindulge. I have been fortunate in my life that I have never been overweight. When I did come close, I was busy exercising.

Unfortunately, many people out there are not as lucky. In fact, if statistics are to be believed, most people out there are not. The rise in obesity and its complications has led to commensurate rises in health care costs. It has put a significant burden on medical care, both in financial and physical terms. Excessive time, money and effort are being put into programs to prevent and treat obesity and its many medical consequences, such as diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, arthritis, etc.

As a result, there are many others who are complaining about the money being spent on obesity. Take for example, Amanda Platell’s view that obesity is not a disease but the result of slovenly behaviour, which includes overeating and under-exercising. She acknowledges that a few have medical conditions that can cause obesity, but she is ranting against the others who are abusing the NHS by doing nothing to help themselves. While she does have a point, there are others who argue that they pay their taxes, so they deserve the help when they need it.

My argument is that they should have cried out for help when they were not too far gone. The best medicine is always prevention, but when you’ve gotten beyond that point, something else needs to be done. Unfortunately, most people only decide that they need help when they can no longer take two steps without panting. Or, when their joints start acting up. Even when they’ve already developed high blood pressure, high blood sugar or high cholesterol levels, they still do not listen to the advice of doctors to diet and exercise. Many people would rather have a quick fix-it. “Just give me a pill, doc.” They don’t even understand that these pills can interact and cause so many side effects. If any negative consequences result, they go after the doctor. Many would say that if it were not for these people, doctors would be out of business. I say, if not for these people, doctors may be able to concentrate on other issues.

Personal responsibility is an issue that has been stressed ever since the banks crashed and we went into recession. This personal responsibility should not just be in the financial sector, but should extend into all facets of life, including your own personal health. When will we learn to adopt that responsibility and stop blaming others for our own failings?

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