Wednesday, March 25, 2009

We have a lot to lose, but where do we go for help?

ARYA SHARMA MD | Special to Globe and Mail Update
March 25, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

In more than 20 years of medical practice, I have yet to meet a patient who chose to be fat. I have also yet to meet a patient who chose to have diabetes, wished for a heart attack or longed for cancer. But while we often look at diabetes, heart disease or cancer as the result of bad genes, bad luck or both, most people attribute obesity to simply making poor choices. Why can't people with excess weight just push away the food and get off their butts? Why should the community pick up the tab for obese people's health problems resulting from gluttony and sloth?

Obesity is a disease that, like diabetes, heart disease or cancer, has a complex causation (genetic, physiological, lifestyle, environmental etc.). The underlying causes and paths to obesity are manifold - no one is immune. A change in economic status or activity level (due to aging, injury or illness), an introduction of a weight-promoting drug for an illness, becoming pregnant, or moving to a less walkable community can result in obesity. CLICK ON THE TITLE FOR THE FULL ESSAY.

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