Should obesity be labelled a disease?

Obesity has been the topic du jour for quite some time now.

“Rise in surgery due to obesity crisis costing NHS £200 million a year!” is the latest in a long line of concerning headlines.

According to a report by the Sunday Times, more than 41,000 obese patients needed hip or knee replacement surgeries because of their weight.

Even more worryingly that figure included seven teenage girls aged between 15 and 19.

What’s more this 575% increase in surgery is costing the NHS £200 million a year, which is just a fraction of the £6 billion from the NHS budget that obesity costs.

Should obesity be labelled a disease? [Photo: Getty]
Should obesity be labelled a disease? [Photo: Getty]

As these stats clearly illustrate the fact that the UK is in the grips of an obesity crisis isn’t really up for debate, but what people do disagree about is whether obesity itself should be classed as a disease or a lifestyle choice.

Obesity is thought to affect around one in every four adults in the UK, and roughly one in five children aged 10 to 11.

Last week, The Royal College of Physicians called for obesity to be reclassified as a disease, claiming the change was necessary in order for the issue to be tackled effectively by healthcare professionals.

Outlining plans to reclassify obesity as a disease, RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard said: “It is important to the health of the nation that we remove the stigma associated with obesity.

“It is not a lifestyle choice caused by individual greed, but a disease caused by health inequalities, genetic influences and social factors.”

But not everyone agrees. This morning on ‘Good Morning Britain’ the debate was ignited once again.

In a discussion about whether obesity should be labelled a disease weight loss expert Steve Miller said we have to get much stronger on fat: “We are normalising fat, now we’re saying it’s a disease. It is a great excuse to give people and it’s a dangerous thing to say,” he said.

“Don’t we need a bit of fat-shaming,” interjecting Piers Morgan. “We have the worst obesity rates in Europe. We have a lot of fat people with a lot of sedentary fat people and now the debate is moving away from come on get off the coach, get fit eat healthy, to lets find an excuse, lets label it a disease.”

And viewers were quick to take to Twitter to offer their own opinions on the thorny subject.

Many agreed that obesity shouldn’t be labelled a disease.

While others argued that there could be many underlying medical issues that contribute to people’s weight.

Looks like this could be a debate that will run and run.

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