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Saturday, 28 February 2009

Fat is an emotive issue

Is bashing fat people the latest sport in the UK? The Daily Mail seems to be having a crusade against the obese at the moment through the comments facility on its articles. Amanda Platell has recently written an article saying she doesn't think people should have weight loss surgery on the NHS because the problem is self inflicted. I understand this is just to get debate going but it is still a very dangerous statement.

If you're going to say any medical problem is self-inflicted then you need to apply that sort of judgement to all illnesses where an element of choice is involved - e.g. anyone suffering from the effects of too much alcohol, smokers, drug addicts, anorexics, people with sports injuries, people injured in car accidents which happened because they did something stupid, people using chain saws or any other dangerous equipment, people who burn themselves when cooking - the list is endless.

It is invidious to suggest that people should not be treated because their illnesses/injuries are self-inflicted. You could end up with hardly anyone being treated if you carry it to its logical conclusion.

I also don't like Body Mass Index as a measure of obesity as it is a nonsense when applied to people such as rugby players or anyone with well developed muscles. I understand that the value above which you are classed as obese has been reduced as well so that more people are classified in that category.

Same with testing for diabetes - acceptable blood glucose level used to be 7.8 and is now 5 and there's talk of reducing it. A friend of ours who is a pharmacist says there will be a lot of seriously ill people around if they take anything lower than 5 as the normal fasting reading. It seems to me there are more people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes simply because the goal posts have been moved.

Are they really concerned for our health or are the drug companies more interested in their profits? This was prompted by NHS Blog Doctor's post of 24 February 2009 which prompted a lot of comments about diabetes and cholesterol and the constant changing of what normal readings should be.

Off to read Susie Orbach's book Bodies to see if I can redress the balance.


kcm said...

Hi Jilly! Not sure I agree with your comments about BG levels; if that's what Michael is being told, I'd love to know the source for the change. The most recent issue of 'Balance' magazine (produced by Diabetes UK and pretty well authoritative) reports that BG target levels have indeed changed: the before meals (so essentially fasting) reading for Type 1s and Type 2s should now be 4-7mmol/l which supercedes the old range of 4-6 mmol/l. So in fact the targets have been relaxed. I'd be very interested to know where the figures of 3 and 5 come from. Incidentally mmol/l is the UK measurement system; the US uses something different which I forget now. Do we , I wonder, have a confusion of units?

Jilly said...

Could well be that we have a confusion of units! I'm not sure he knows which is which and I took the figures from a source I hadn't checked though as I say our pharmacist friend seemed to know about them. I'm not sure what units his self check metre uses but he's been told that 5 would be ok for a fasting reading and the hospital have seen the gadget. Maybe one should assume hospitals know what they're talking about??

Jilly said...

Figures came from here
post of 24 February 2009.

Jilly said...

I have amended it slightly and referred to the source of some of the information.