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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Over Eaters’ Over-Eating Now a “Disease”



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Character is “out.” Diseases are “in.” Everything is being medicalized. Obesity is the latest example, with the AMA now supporting the idea that obesity is a “disease.”

Surprise, surprise: Redefining obesity into a “disease” allows the emerging technocracy to grow and gain power and control over our lives. From the AMA Medical News story:

Lawmakers introduced bipartisan bills in the Senate and House to lower health care costs and prevent chronic diseases by addressing the nation’s obesity epidemic. Although the timing was coincidental, observers say the declaration by the AMA House of Delegates meeting in June probably will have a significant impact in adding momentum to policy, research and treatment approaches to obesity — including a new dimension in exam room conversations between doctors and patients…
The declaration already is sparking discussions among medical organizations about the biologic, environmental and genetic factors contributing to unhealthy weight. Such conversations are important, because obesity long has been attributed to poor behavior, which fueled stigma against the disease, health experts say. “Many of us believe that this is going to propel a critical mass effect so that we will see a lot of action,” said Jeffrey I. Mechanick, MD, president of the American Assn. of Clinical Endocrinologists. He wrote the resolution on designating obesity as a disease with colleagues from his organization and others.

Declaring obesity a “disease” is part of an international effort, as I noted in the Weekly Standard some time ago, to transform the campaign against obesity into the new global warming. Indeed, the proposed policy remedies are nearly identical.

Sure, obesity can be caused by a bodily dysfunction. And we have genetic propensities. But mostly, we the overweight, are too heavy because of our own choices.  

That’s just crazy talk, Wesley! Taking a second helping of pasta or smearing three slices of dinner bread with butter, or enjoying a 3:00 PM ice cream cone, are merely “symptoms”of a “disease”–requiring “the experts” and “the scientists” and “the politicians” and “the bureaucrats”–to save us.

And in so defining the problem, character and self-discipline grow increasingly archaic concepts. Self-restraint and discipline are government-supplied through “programs.”  

This all comes at a very high cost: With the enervation of personal responsibility comes a concomitant stifling of personal liberty. Low expectations for individual behavior, it seems to me, is the real “disease” afflicting us in the modern age.



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