Gransnet forums


Michael Buerk. Is obesity a disease?

(367 Posts)
merlotgran Tue 06-Aug-19 14:41:41

Or are overweight people just weak?

What are your thoughts?

Grany Tue 06-Aug-19 14:51:45


I think they don't think about food as having health benefit they eat without thinking whether the food is good for you. So much choice available junk food surgery snacks soft drinks.

MiniMoon Tue 06-Aug-19 14:54:52

I'm of the opinion that obesity is a lifestyle choice. People like eating, and they like all the sweet sugary niceness that makes them fat. Only a tiny minority of fat people are actually ill.
I'm fatter than I ought to be according to NHS guidelines, but it's entirely my own fault because as I've become older I've become more sedentary. I eat as I did when I was working, and I really don't need all the calories.
I am trying to lose weight, and it's working!☺

Alexa Tue 06-Aug-19 14:56:08

The usual criteria for disease are 1. danger of death , and 2.

Obesity often causes both.

SueDonim Tue 06-Aug-19 15:03:59

I don't think it's as simplistic as disease v weakness. There are so many factors at play in each individual case. Like Minimoon I'm verging on overweight due to a change in lifestyle. I'm the only person who can change that and that's what I'm trying to do.

What I have observed lately is the number of overweight families. Maybe people being clad in summer clothing makes it more obvious, but I feel sorry for children in a family where everyone is overweight. It's not the child's fault they're looking at a future of the likelihood of more disease and an early death but it's neither disease nor weakness.

notanan2 Tue 06-Aug-19 15:15:21

SueDonim I agree that that is a big problem. If you are over weight but still the smallest of your friends/family, it is harder to see the problem.

When one of my girls was in a class group a good few years ago I noticed that she was the skinniest/scrawniest looking of the whole bunch. I got her weighed with the nurse and she told me that DD was not "skinny" for her age at all. She was actually bang in the middle of what she should be for her height and age! But she was the smallest in her class! So the kids who were "middle/average" in that class may well have been over weight but dont "look" over weight compaired to their friends IYKWIM

Sara65 Tue 06-Aug-19 15:17:18

I think some people are more likely to become obese, we all know people who snack all day, and stay thin as rakes, whereas some people, like me, for example, have to be a lot more careful

I think though, in most cases, if you’ve fat, it’s because you eat too much of the wrong food!

pinkquartz Tue 06-Aug-19 15:19:35

It is also known that many medications cause weight gain .
As does any illness that prevents mobility let alone exercise.
I am sick of people's judgemental attitudes.
So no he is wrong.......why not let sports injuries go untreated as well.
Not to mention all addictions .......
Idiot man !

notanan2 Tue 06-Aug-19 15:24:35

I think some people are more likely to become obese, we all know people who snack all day, and stay thin as rakes

If you actually counted the calories that skinny people who are "always eating" are actually taking in, they wouldnt be over consuming.

Same for over weight people who claim to eat very little.

People are very bad at guestimating their calorie intake.

As for meds. Very few meds "cause weight gain" if you ate the same amount of cals on the meds as you did before. Many cause "inceased appetites" which take extra effort to keep an eye on, but if you do keep the intake under control (which IS harder with increased appetite) you wont gain weight on most of those meds.

MissAdventure Tue 06-Aug-19 15:28:15

Its symptomatic of our overindulgent western lifestyle, I think.

rosecarmel Tue 06-Aug-19 15:38:31

He's a controversial journalist- Not a medical professional- His area of expertise is spreading ideas for their shock value- Its what he gets paid to do- Be ugly-

I think the underlying causes of obesity are medical conditions well as the condition of obesity itself-

M0nica Tue 06-Aug-19 15:43:26

Obesity is not a disease, but it has many causes. For most people, yes it is a question of too much and poor choice of food and drink, but there are a significant number of people who are overweight for reasons that are not easily within their control. some have it as a side effect of another illness - polycystic ovary disease, or as a side effect of the medicaments they need to take; steroids, for example, and there are also a number whose overweight is genetic.

I had a fascinating interview between Jim Al-Khalili and a woman doctor whose name eludes me in the R4 programme 'The Life Scientific'. She researches the role genes play in obesity and it is quite clear that for some people there is a strong genetic influence.

The best way to tell the difference is to look at pictures of an obese persons family, if photographs taken 50 or more years ago, show that some members were obese, even though you know they led busy active lives (housework and washing were hard manual work then), then there may be a genetic cause, but if everyone is slim, then it is less likely.

FlexibleFriend Tue 06-Aug-19 15:43:48

It depends why people are overweight, I'm bigger than I would like but have a condition that is destroying my joints and exercise is impossible due to pain. I used to be an exercise freak, walking the dogs for hours at a time, swimming 70 lengths every day and working out in the gym. I barely eat, don't drink alcohol don't eat junk food etc etc. I was a size 10 my entire life until this condition raised it's head. So some people are lazy, eat all the wrong stuff, do no exercise and get fat, others do exactly the same and remain stick thin. You can't judge a book by it's cover. If Michael Burke would like to take on my condition and see how he fares he'd be more than welcome and I'd be more than happy to be rid of it.

NfkDumpling Tue 06-Aug-19 15:43:54

Judging by the way some overweight young women dress I’ve come to the conclusion being overweight can be the same as being underweight - although obviously not in all cases.

Some people just don’t see themselves as fat. When they look in the mirror they see a slimmer person looking back in the same way as an anorexic person sees herself as fat. I’ve heard overweight people criticising other overweight people for their size obviously not realising they’re practically the same. If anorexia can be treated as a mental illness then surely so can the reverse. (There must be a name for it - anyone know?)

(Gone off Michael Buerk)

notanan2 Tue 06-Aug-19 15:45:34

People are bad at judging what is healthy.

Because these days, what is "normal" is not necessarily healthy.

An average sized portion is not necessarily a healthy one.

An average sized person is not necessarily a healthy sized person


MissAdventure Tue 06-Aug-19 15:47:48

If you're moving around less and using less energy, you need to reduce the amount of calories you consume.
It's that simple (says fatty missadventure!)

notanan2 Tue 06-Aug-19 15:52:03

I dont think that having obese family members necessarily points to a genetic cause. Often unhealthy food behaviours are shared and passed down. And having over weight family members normalises it but also gives an "excuse" to not take accountability "all my family are big its in our genes".

There really arent genes that MAKE you fat. There are genes that may make it harder to be healthy, e.g. making it harder to feel full or manage intake/impulse control. But even with those genes you can only gain weight if you eat too many calories. And these days there are so many free apps that can easily keep track for you

MissAdventure Tue 06-Aug-19 15:54:05

You often see families that are all the same shape, but if they're all fat, then they're all consuming too much, regardless of their shape.

notanan2 Tue 06-Aug-19 16:04:03

One branch of my family are convinced that they are "genetically" fat.

But from a relative outsider I feel fat and bloated whenever I spend time with them.

They think they exercise a lot. In reality they make a big song and dance about their "walks" but they drive everywhere, even to places in walking distance. Their "walks" = driving to a park. Then walking SLOWELY in a small loop. Then driving home.

They DO eat "healthy food" as in theres lots of veg & fruit. But there is just too much food. And snacks between each meal too.

They really "drink their calories". Pint glasses of fruit juice at breakfast. Sugary smoothies or syrupey lattes if out and about. Hot chocolates. Spirits with mixers etc.

My household isnt perfect either, but I always leave their home feeling lethargic with a tummy ache. And no it is not because they are putting on "visitor spreads" This is their "normal"

People are really out of touch with what being healthy looks and feels like.

Alima Tue 06-Aug-19 16:16:26

No, I don’t think that all overweight people are weak. This particular one is bl..dy cross. At least the weight gain seems to have plateaued as the meds have decreased. I do honestly think that’s some obese people are quite ok with their weight. Personally I hate the waddle aspect.

pinkquartz Tue 06-Aug-19 16:20:18


that is completely untrue about medications....some do put on weight and not though increased appetite.
That is an old myth.
am sick of it.
it might be true of some people, but not all.

pinkquartz Tue 06-Aug-19 16:22:17


I think your views are biased because of your relatives.

pinkquartz Tue 06-Aug-19 16:26:44

I am similar to you FlexibleFriend except I was a size 8.

It is really tough isn't it? My close friends are understanding but in general most people hold views that make me cross.

Daisymae Tue 06-Aug-19 16:27:33

So where do you stop - limit health care for people who don't exercise enough? Or people who are careless enough to contact a std? How about hang gliding? Motorcycle accidents are quite avoidable too. Seems to me that we should not be so quick to judge.

M0nica Tue 06-Aug-19 16:27:36

notanan, there is a difference between having a few obese family members where they are in different families the rest of whose members are normal sized, and families where it runs in groups, yes, then it is probably family eating habits, but two or three dotted through a family, where spouses/siblings are not overweight, does not.

Bearing in mind pinkquartz's post above, I get the feeling that you are of the old-fashioned mechanistic school that believes there is a direct and simple relationship between calories and internal energy use. If only. And, no, I am not overweight.