04 January 2019

Is obesity a medical condition or a lifestyle choice?

The gloves are off, as health experts are debating whether obesity ought to be recognised as a disease, rather than a lifestyle choice.

Professor Andrew Goddard, President of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "It is important to the health of the nation that we remove the stigma associated with obesity.

1 in 4 adults are obese, along with 1 in 5 children leaving primary school.

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

"It is governments, not individuals, which can have an impact on the food environment through regulation and taxation, and by controlling availability and affordability.

"Governments can also promote physical activity by ensuring that facilities are available to local communities, and through legislation and public health initiatives."

However, David Buck from the health think tank, The Kings Fund, argued: "I do think this could have dangerous consequences.

"Obesity isn't a disease, it's a condition, an outcome. I am slightly overweight, according to government statistics, but I don't see myself as suffering from a disease. It's because of the environment I live in, the choices I make. It's a condition, not a disease, I don't buy that at all."

The debate follows the news that Public Health England officials are lobbying for a "pudding tax" against companies that fail to reduce the amount of sugar in their food products. 

What do you think? Should obesity be classified as a medical condition or is it a lifestyle choice?