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The big question – whose fault is obesity?

October 17, 2007

obesity3.jpgFor the last few years, the government has been encouraging us to avoid scoffing too many pizzas and burgers, and to exercise more to avoid becoming obese.

But now a government think-tank says obesity isn’t anyone’s fault – modern life causes the problem, not laziness or greed.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has warned that the country faces an obesity timebomb as serious as climate change, that will bring illness and diseases and cost the country billions of pounds.

So whose fault is it? Is the report right by saying individuals are not to blame? Or is that a recipe for people to keep on eating their way to obesity?

Send us your comments


Oh Dear,

Excuses as usual, individuals are not responsible for their own life style?
In mitigation the fact that succesive goverments have been in bed with the food industry for decades has certainly not helped, neither has the nonsense of fitness centres being an alternative to hard physical work.

Self-sufficiency and an awareness of energy in vs. energy out; needs to be the new God.

Posted by Jim Waugh | Report as abusive

Obesity comes from eating too much of the wrong foods. When you see increasingly fat children as well as aduclts gorging on poor quality carbs such as fatty chips and sweets you don’t need a 2-year study to tell us it is not their fault. Who eat the chips?
This is also a matter of education. In the US which has a worsening problem, you find that the better educated are generally slim. These days the rich are slim not fat, a reverse of history.
If it was nobody’s fault then the rich would be just as fat (especially as they can afford more labour-saving devices)However, they are generally not.
Furthermore, it is not a matter of resources, as expensive “fast-food” costs more than fresh veg etc. It is perfectly possible to eat healthily yet very cheaply. Education must be the key here.

Posted by Martin | Report as abusive

The higher rates of obesity in the developed world are clear proof that this is a social phenomenon – a reflection on our convenience society. It is too simplistic to attribute this solely to diet as Martin suggests, I would say that a lack of exercise is a bigger factor and this was acknowledged in the study above.

However all freedoms come with some measure of responsibility so it makes absolutely no sense to me to say that the individual is not at fault. If one extrapolates this theory one can find excuses for all manner of irresponsible or even criminal behaviour. If we want to address the ‘problem’ of obesity we have to make it as much of a stigma as, say, smoking. However, in a culture that enshrines personal freedom -particularly the freedom to consume – this may be more easily said than done.

Posted by Oli | Report as abusive

If obese persons were not allowed to drive, this would address two things, traffic congestion and obesity, i cant think of a more appropriate way of addressing this issue


having seen my previous comment in print, a correction is called for, if obese persons were not allowed to take their driving test would be more realistic.


A fat tax should be imposed. Obese people are eating up our health care systems. (no pun intended) If we can tax tobacco and alcohol and prostitution (in some countries) then why not tax fatty foods?

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

I can’t believe an assumably educated person conducted this study and came up with the above conclusions!
If energy in is greater than energy out you will put on weight. Both these factors are things which the individual has control over!
Making up excuses and saying that the individual is not at fault is just asking for trouble. It takes the power away from the individual and makes them believe there is nothing they can do, so why bother trying at all?
It is extremely hard to go from being obese to being a healthy weight, but it is completely possible. I know because I personally have lost 46kg. It took a lot of hard work to do it, but, I was/am the one in control.
People need to be educated, not just on the concept of energy in vs energy out, but on how to make healthy choices, how to make a lifestyle change for the better. People also need support and encouragement.

Posted by Ami | Report as abusive

I was raised in a house hold where there was/is always junk food galore. However, there is also an abundance of healthy food.

Growing up may parents tended to gravitate toward the healthy food, thus my sister and I did too. If we asked to go to McDonald’s for lunch my parents would take us but not get anything for themselves. They would go home with us instead and eat something healthy while we ate our burgers and fries. They never lectured us on the nutritional contents or anything of that nature. Their actions and attitude towards unhealthy food was what really affected my sister and I.

When I see those shows about obese children asking for food while they’re sitting on the couch I’m disgusted. But when their parents get up to get it for them, I’m appalled. They’re watching TV for goodness sake! If they were doing homework or something for their parents, or really ill I could understand this. But just sitting there? My answer would be, “Get off your ass and get it yourself!! You’re not doing anything important!”.

I have to agree with Jim Waugh, at the end of the day YOU are responsible for yourself.

Posted by Des | Report as abusive

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