This Guardian article by bariatric surgeon, Richard Welbourn is full of contradictions. He argues that we should stop judging Britain’s obese people and start treating them surgically, as our European counterparts do.
Welbourn argument highlights different causes of obesity. At one extreme, he suggests:
For severely obese people, the hormonal effects of being obese mean that medical therapies, lifestyle changes and attempts at dieting rarely succeed in maintaining long-term, clinically beneficial weight loss.
But on the other hand, he argues:
The World Health Organisation identifies obesity as a chronic disease. But on the other side we have the popular perception – shared by some healthcare professionals – that it is purely a lifestyle choice. This totally disregards the fact that, driven by powerful food industry advertising, it is those who are poor who are most affected.
Reality is more complex. We can imagine a continuum of triggers for obesity, ranging from hormonal effects from birth to lifestyle choices of junk-food and laziness. Whilst, there’s a strong case for those with hormonal defects, the case for the other end of the continuum is less robust as many clinicians know – for many of these people obesity is a lifestyle choice.
In a world of severely rationed healthcare, surely improving cancer outcomes takes precedence over bariatric surgery for the obesity driven by lifestyle choice? Surely, governments have better options to tax junk food and promote healthcare?