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Are you fat? Or just a victim of society?


Reports of a 16 stone woman who took the NHS to court to demand a gastric bypass did not exactly trigger an outpouring of sympathy from Nursing Times readers.

In the case, the woman launched a judicial review when her primary care trust refused to pay for the procedure. She had previously paid for a gastric band herself, but the band came loose after two and a half years and her weight went from 10 stone to 16 stone.

The PCT decided not to fight the case and the woman will now be allowed to have the operation.

Not exactly slim ourselves at 46 stone, Beyond the Bedpan instantly sympathised with the poor woman. It wasn’t our fault our best friend planned a hog roast last weekend. (Long story, but let’s just say the other guests went home hungry.) And we had to have the jelly doughnuts on the way home - there are four food groups after all. In any case, between that and the nightly pints of Ben and Jerry’s, the pounds have started to add up. But don’t blame us - Beyond the Bedpan Towers isn’t exactly a modern workplace with a colourful gym and full-time masseuse. And the other children used to taunt us on the playground.

But we digress.

The point is it’s a wonder anyone can stay thin in this world, but Nursing Times readers just didn’t seem to understand. Even with dozens of places to lay blame - the tastiness of cake, tricky to read food labels, narrow pavements, mean employers, lifts, mother’s milk or the lack thereof, genes, hydrogenated fats, the NHS, those ads where they show pictures of giant burgers - most of you seemed cruelly bent on blaming the people doing the eating and failing to do the moving around.

One commenter said: “Why doesn’t she just try eating less! This is a magic wand which she doesn’t have to pay for! Especially when we have a cash strapped NHS!”

“There is a simple exercise for losing weight - shake your head from side to side every time you are offered food,” quipped another.

A third summed it up with an equation: “4000 calories of food a day + 4000 calories of energy used = happiness.”

That’s all well and good for skinny people to say, but could someone pass the crisps?


Readers' comments (19)

  • Cruelly bent? I know this is in jest but it is hardly cruel to suggest that those who are fat are that way because they eat to much and excercise too little, it is as simple as that. And how can people stay thin in this world? Easy, a bit of planning and a bit of willpower and just a hint of hard work!

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  • When we are talking of being overweight there is never the mention of "why?". It is not always a simple case of over eating & under exercising. For a lot of people there are underlying psycological/emotional reasons why. I think that before patients are reffered for surgery there should be a psychological assessment. Surgery does not take away the desire to overeat it just makes it physically impossible to do so.

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  • Unless you are pinned down and force-fed by another person, you are probably like the majority of people in the world - you, and you alone, have control over what you choose to eat. Being overweight is a lifestyle choice, nobody makes you do it.

    For me, the comedian Billy Connolly summed it up beautifully in four words when he was poking fun at all the different fad diets and exercise programmes that are available - it's quite simple 'Eat less, do more'...

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  • That's the catch though, it is not just that simple or everyone would be the perfect weight. Gaining weight is of course taking more energy in than is burned off and it is very easy to do, but once gained it is not that easy to loose - if it were there wouldn't be a multimillion pound market in weight loss.

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  • Anonymous | 30-Sep-2010 10:38 am I have to disagree I'm afraid. Whilst many people may have a reason (and for that read excuse) for overeating or not getting any excercise (boredom, stress, feeling upset, can't get to a gym, etc etc etc), 99% of the time they are nothing that cannot be overcome with willpower and hard work. For all of those people, it is simply about CHOICE. And they CHOOSE not to excercise or eat too much.

    And Anonymous | 30-Sep-2010 11:43 am, yes it IS that easy, if you do it right. Yes it takes time and yes it takes hard work, but so what? I understand in this 'right now' culture that we seem to be living in, the idea of putting effort in over a long period to gain long term rewards is a little alien, but that does not make it impossible. Quite the reverse in fact. And that multimillion pound market is only around quite frankly because there are so many people out there who aren't prepared to put the effort in or take the time to do it, it is as simple as that; it has got nothing to do with the fact that it is not easy to do.

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  • Most people (including nurses) are always on one diet or another - I would have liked to hear a little more compassion and less judgement - how about we discuss how to solve the problem of why people make certain lifestyle choices instead of just assuming they're weak, spineless, lazy, greedy, good for nothing people - or is it that that's what you call yourselves when you've tried that outfit on that doesn't fit anymore?

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  • My weight has crept up over the last five years. It coincides exactly with a period when I had work problems, then I lost two close family members. Weight gain is no more about laziness than any 'vice'. In fact it's much easier to lean on food- easily available and as cheap as you want to make it.
    Each person is an individual and must find their own way of dealing with losing weight. In the meantime, I cannot help but ask the question-why do fat people create such anger? We think that alcoholics deserve rehab whereas fat people just get told 'get off your behind and do some exercise'. What is the agenda here I wonder...

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  • Lazy, fat, slobbish people with no self respect. They want miracle pills and diets cos they can't be arsed addressing the situation properly.

    For NICE to suggest paying theses fatties to lose weight when they are denying cancer drugs to patients is a bloody disgrace!

    It's time fat people were told some home truths...get off your fat backside and eat less!!

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  • The amount spent on alcoholics and drug addicts is also a scandal when we have more deserving patients. The money spent is not justified by the health is basically a waste of money. I've recently spent time within a rehab service (staff!)...missed appointments, non compliant and rude and aggressive patients. Staff sat on their backsides all day cos no one turns up.

    How this service can be justified in todays financial climate baffles is time it was stopped.

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  • mmm yes i see your point but although it is easy for us to eat well and go to the gym etc. it is not so easy for some people. They are housebound due to various ilnessess, no job, low income and bored. I know it is possible but must be extremely difficult to move more and eat healthily!

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