Recognise obesity as a disease to reduce prevalence, says RCPBMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l45 (Published 03 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l45
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I'm disappointed by the simplistic arguments as to whether obesity is a consequence of greed and lifestyle choices or the inevitable outcome of genetics and social inequality. This black and white approach doesn't serve patients well individually or as a population. I fully accept that there are significant factors which have to be addressed at a population health level and we absolutely must do this if we are to truly practise preventative medicine. However, to simply label it a disease and say the answer lies with public health policy takes away any degree of personal responsibility and risks tying the hands of both the obese person and their doctor when it comes to the individual solution to their problem. If people are able to say to themselves "it's not my fault I'm overweight or obese, it's down to society" they are more likely to end up as statistics and have a poorer quality, shorter life as a result.
We need a dual pronged approach where, against a background of bold decisions by government and properly commissioned prevention services, people are expected to take personal responsibility and understand that what they choose (and they do choose, to some degree) to put in their mouths and how physically active they are will have consequences for better or for worse. Owning this for themselves will be more likely to result in behaviour change (appropriately supported) and improved outcomes, both individually and collectively. The practising of lifestyle medicine as a discipline, by both the patient and by the right health professional at the right time, is key to this.
Competing interests: No competing interests