Dr. Hamish Meldrum is the head of the British Medical Association and has upset a lot of people because he wants to stop sugar-coating the obesity problem and start some serious prevention. Meldrum’s view is that obesity is not always a “medical” problem, but a behavioral one, and when doctors are too quick a write a prescription for a pill for a patient who should be best helped with dietary modification and behavioral changes around food, this prevents overweight people from taking personal responsibility about their weight problems.
I have to agree with Meldrum on the point that many doctors would sooner write a pill prescription and get their patients out the door than spend the time necessary to educate their patients on the behavioral and dietary modifications to manage obesity. Additionally, prescription drugs used to manage obesity come with their own set of side effects, and shouldn’t be regarded as long term solutions for those people who otherwise could get their weight under control.
Here in the states, when I see children as young as five or six who are obese, I look at their parents and wonder what they are feeding their kids, and whether they encouraged their kids to play outside to hand off their kids to today’s “modern babysitters”: video games and television. Each year I see more and more kids who are obese – I’m not talking about “baby fat” that we are all born with – and I often see these kids chugging down 32 ounces of sodas and candies and cookies.
On the other hand, Meldrum isn’t winning friends with his “prevention” view by antagonizing. From the comments in the article published by The Evening Standard, many people took offense at Meldrum’s views, especially those whose weight appear to truly be medically related.
I think our level of “political correctness” is bordering on the ridiculous. However, sometimes diplomacy may work better than shock value to get support for your cause, especially when your cause has an important health consequence.