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Deciding which side of the line you fall

Wendy Lewis remain sceptical on the fashion for recognising new medical conditions

I have written previously on the subject of the hypocrisy of obese people who continually complain about the discrimination and lack of respect they receive from non-fatties and yet simultaneously also claim that they are entirely happy about their weight.

Today, on the website of the Daily Mail, there is a report upon a US survey whose findings suggest that labelling obesity as a medically-recognised condition is counter-productive in health terms, because it allows sufferers to believe that there is nothing they can do about their situation and therefore they might as well carry on their health-harming lifestyle.

This is consistent with my general view that the increasing willingness of medical researchers and other to give supposed ‘conditions’ official medical status is unfortunate.

With the caveat that plainly the situation of every individual is different, it seems to me that, if (for example) you take two people who are feeling seriously ‘down’ and tell one of them just to ‘buck their ideas up and get on with it’ and tell the other that they’re suffering from depression, the latter is far more likely to have a long-term problem.


Because, once anyone is accepted as having a medically-recognised condition, they’ve got a comfortable cast-iron excuse to wallow in it.

To take the above example, is it not perfectly possible – if such things were measurable – that the person who told to ‘get on with it’ has, de facto, a far more serious case of ‘the blues’ than the one told that he has depression?

The same goes for other ‘conditions’, such as autism and ADHT. Before these were given official medical status, people just dealt with them as best they could.

Now, however, the proportion of parents the world over with children identified as having autism or ADHT, where previously those kids would simply have been regarded as having behavioural problems, has mushroomed. It should be added that most of these parents seem to be middle-class, because that group is more likely to have higher aspirations for their children and therefore greater need of an ‘explanation’ (excuse?) when their offspring aren’t quite perfect as everyone else’s.

I wish to stress that I’m not denigrating those who have genuine issues or conditions.

I’m just saying that, these days, it seems that a lot depends upon whether or not you can get your ‘problem’ officially recognised by the medical profession. If you can, you are able to relax, quote your status and plug into a whole raft of medications, support and general sympathy from others. If you cannot, it seems you’re on your own. I’m just concerned about the potential randomness as to which side of any specific dividing line an individual is determined to be.

See here for the Mail’s obesity article today – DAILY MAIL


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About Wendy Lewis

A former GP in the Home Counties, Wendy’s busy life revolves around her husband, grandchildren and two Labrador dogs – though not necessarily in that order. More Posts