The Errors of Individualistic Public Health Interventions: Denial of Treatment to Obese Persons; Comment on “Denial of Treatment to Obese Patients—the Wrong Policy on Personal Responsibility for Health”

Document Type: Commentary

Author

Department of Bioethics & Interdisciplinary Studies, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, USA

Abstract

I agree entirely with Nir Eyal’s perspective that denying treatment to obese patients is morally wrong. However, the reasons for this belief differ in some ways from Eyal’s analysis. In this commentary, I will try to explain the similarities and differences in our perspectives. My primary claim is that the denial of treatment to obese patients is wrong principally because (i) it eschews a whole-population approach to the problem of poor nutrition and is therefore likely to be ineffective; (ii) it is likely to expand obesity-related health inequities; and (iii) it is likely to intensify stigma against already-marginalized social groups. I shall consider each in turn, and explore the extent to which Eyal would be likely to agree with my claims.

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