Should people with obesity be given free treatment or is it their own fault? 257



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It’s a health issue, but it can also be an ethical issue – obesity. When we see an overweight person, sometimes we don’t think anything, but some may wonder how they got to that size. While there are health issues that can make you gain weight, for the most part, obesity is caused by a poor diet and lack of exercise. So here is the moral issue: should those with obesity be given free treatment?

It has been revealed that the Australian Medical Association in Queensland is set to unveil a five-year health plan to provide greatest public health support for obese patients, including gastric banding and other bariatric procedures. It’s for the overall good of the health system, say Queensland doctors. But is it that simple? Should those who have potentially made a personal choice have access to a procedure that could cost taxpayers millions?

Sky News reports that AMA Queensland President Dr Shaun Rudd said free bariatric surgery for the morbidly obese and a push to increase vaccination rates was part of the association’s new plan. Dr Rudd believes that there are huge, long-term costs on the health system if these people continue to be obese, and it’s best to nip it in the bud now.

“Our Health Vision sets out new ways to tackle the state’s critical health care problems such as obesity, vaccination rates and health inequality.

“Among our targets is for overweight Queenslanders to be five per cent slimmer by 2020”, he said.

On the TODAY show, Dr Rudd also said that Queensland is facing a huge crisis, with 10 per cent more obese people than any other state.

The AMA president said that the surgery is not for everybody, “It’s for patients who have tried their very, very best to lose weight and just cannot do it” – does that make it OK?

Despite the prospect of offering publicly-funded lap band surgery to the obese, there has been evidence to suggest that those who have undergone the invasive surgery have had complications, which means more spending of government funds for follow ups. A February study showed that more than one in five people who have lap band and other obesity surgery need revisions or reversals after issues emerge.

The Flinders University study found more than 20 per cent of obesity surgery required revision within three years, “which raises issues with regards to the cost effectiveness of this form of treatment for obesity,” the authors say.

So if that is the case, then it is clear that there could be implications of introducing a new system that offers free surgery to those who have struggled with their weight. Should national or state health incentive be based around healthy eating or just doing something when the problem gets bad? Is this just damage control?


So we want to know today, should morbidly obese people be able to access free gastric band surgery? Or should they pay for it privately? Or is it acceptable if that person has been unable to lose weight in other ways? Tell us below.

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  1. If they got that way from poor lifestyle choices, then the surgery will not make any long-term difference unless those choices change. The formula for weight is not a secret. If you consume more calories than you can use, you gain weight. If you consume fewer calories than you use, you lose weight. There are many reasons why any one particular person may or may not be as efficient at burning calories; many reasons why people consume too many, but the formula still holds true. To give free treatment for an obesity epidemic still seems like putting a finger in the dyke. More work is needed to avoid getting to that point.

    8 REPLY
    • You obviously have no real idea what you are talking about. Just media hype and general misconception that you are what eat. No you aren’t. There are many, many reasons for obesity that don’t involve food intake and /or lack of exercise

    • Charmaine, I don’t think that’s exactly what I said. perhaps you missed this part. “There are many reasons why any one particular person may or may not be as efficient at burning calories…” Would that not include medication, medical issues etc etc etc?

    • this is a silly question,to put out there…a slim person will say no.a fat person will say yes….i hate these blogs leave fat people alone they suffer enough.some people get fat through worry and thyroid….to you do gooders who live on a celery stick,time to change your way of thinking about obese people

    • Patricia, I agree it’s a divisive question and people will tend to support one side or another. I don’t think just a ‘quick fix’ operation is the answer, simply because, in many cases, it won’t work. The reasons why people became obese in the first place will still be there and need to be addressed. Please don’t forget that many people of healthy weight got to be like that because they worked incredibly hard to be that person. They weren’t ‘lucky’ or had ‘good genes’ or no medical issues. Personally, i adore carbs – biscuits, cakes, chocolate, bread, pasta, chips etc. I also know that if I eat them, I put on weight. My determination not to be overweight is greater than my desire to eat those things. trust me, it’s not easy.

    • Some people never have to deal with weight at all. Good metabolism, it’s in there makeup to be thin. Others have to work there bums off to stay there. Some also have health issues along with weight so it’s not that easy. We do need to help overweight people because it will not only cost people there life it will also cost the medical system a fortune. In turn we all pay! Skinny people seem to think we all sit on the couch and stuff our faces! I myself have osteoarthritis a family trait I’ve had since I was 30 certainly not overweight then but not being mobile as much with both knees replaced ankle fusion and back issues I’m lucky I get out of bed some days. Hence the weight has crept on and I would do so much better with the surgery. Could never afford to have it without help. If you haven’t delt with serious weight issues you would never know what it’s like.

    • Sue, not ALL overweight or obese people are just flat out pigs who don’t care what they eat. It is an addiction like a lot of other vices.The point is you are not born with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth , a syringe sticking in your arm or a bottle of alcohol in your hand. This is a personal choice but society accepts this and have many aids or groups to help. With overeating, the thing is you have to eat to survive . The others are life choices of which none are necessary to exist. Far from it. If you have the addiction to food, it is very difficult along with maybe depression, genetic, or personal issues to control. I am not making excuses for obesity but not every fat person you see, sits down all day shoving cream buns down their throats.About time for the medical world to assist the obese with early family intervention while children are young to try and monitor and work out if it is addiction or lifestyle.

    • Perhaps I am not being clear enough about what I am saying. ” There are many reasons why any one particular person may or may not be as efficient at burning calories; many reasons why people consume too many…” was part of what I said. Surely those reasons would include addictive personalities, medical issues, depression etc etc. I have not criticised people for their choices, nor have I said that the surgery should not be funded. I just don’t think it is a workable solution to the problem. We should be trying to avoid the problem in the first place.

  2. It’s not always that straightforward. There can be medical reasons for weight gain.

    1 REPLY
    • Yes and anti depression medication causes weight gain. So you are depressed because you are fat. You are fat because you are depressed and the medications makes you fatter. Obesity is often complicated.

  3. Help them by all means but if they are getting help for free then so should smokers.Obesity is now a bigger killer than nicotine and costs the country more money.

  4. Obesity is more complicated than just cutting out on calories. Iet the health professionals help these people

    3 REPLY
    • They try…I see it hospital dieticians etc then they get family or friends to smuggle them in chocolate or Kentucky etc its costing hospitals a fortune to try and fix people who don’t want to be fixed.

    • Its physiological! Their mental state needs to be addressed first. Many are addicted to food and use this as a crutch. Otherwise Lap band surgery is a waste of time.

  5. Offering free lap-band surgery to the obese is a ridiculous “knee-jerk” reaction to the obesity epidemic. Without the following criteria being filled it is a non-viable proposition: 1) the individual must REALLY want to & is COMMITTED not only to weight loss, but also exercise & living a healthier lifestyle as a whole 2) medical & psychological assessments being done to measure the suitability of each individual, for any form of weight loss program, including lap-band surgery.

  6. Weight gain can be medical not because the eat the wrong foods but the sad fact is people don’t know this and get put into the bracket of over eaters

  7. It is their own fault, no they should lose weight by themselves just takes some will power and eating the correct food. It’s not that hard. If surgery is required then they should pay for it.

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