Monday, January 07, 2008

The Sublime To The Ridiculous!

In Victoria, a plan is being put forward by the Australian Medical Association to provide free surgery to band and therefore constrict the stomachs of chronically obese teenagers (it's called bariatric surgery). Trials are already underway to assess the efficacy of such operations which needless to say don't come cheaply.

Of course, everyday, right across the world, children are dying in the thousands because of lack of food. Meanwhile, in Australia and America, children are becoming dangerously obese mainly because of over-eating and lack of exercise. How ironic! And the obesity problem does not just apply to children either.

Given that the cost of health services in Australia (as elsewhere) continues to rise astronomically and taxpayer's dollars for such care is limited, is it reasonable to spend huge amounts of money fixing up preventable health problems such as those caused by over-eating, cigarette smoking, alcoholism, etc? If people knowingly choose to damage themselves, why should others pay?

Would that money be better spent by giving aid and assistance to poorer countries where people have no medical care or food and are dying unnecessarily as a result?

It is a moral dilemma. Which way should our affluent society go?

Photo Link.


Broken Left Leg said...

Whatever happened to "self enhancement summer school"

Daniel said...

Thanks for calling by, BLL! Computers and television have a lot to answer for, I reckon.

Wonder if people will sue the manufacturers in the future for damaging their health? Cheers.

Lucyp said...

Our media seems to alternate between tales of our kids being dangerously overweight (video games, TV, fatty foods, lack of exercise) and being dangerously underweight (size zero role models, magazine images). Seems there is no happy medium.

Daniel said...

Great observation, Lucy! These two extremes, both dangerous, show how easy it is to manipulate human beings for profit despite their education.


Anonymous said...

Rather than just a moral dilemma, I would've thought the problems of medical funding you highlight here also have a political dimension. It's one thing to seek to hold individuals who overeat, smoke etc responsible for their own health-costs. But what about the promotion of such 'life-style' choices - e.g. children's afternoon TV advertising. Isn't there a case for more regulation of TV (and other media) advertising?

Granny said...

Daniel, I suppose it depends on how you look at obesity, addiction, etc.

If you believe it's a moral issue or a lack of self control, then you believe that they should be able to help themselves.

If you believe that addiction, whether to food or other things is an illness, then it seems reasonable to help those who ask and who will work toward their own recovery.

Having said that, I'm not at all sure that stomach stapling is safe, even for many adults. One of my friends died a few years ago and I know there have been others.

Daniel said...

Anony, there certainly is a strong case for regulating the advertising of products which lead to health problems. That's why I said to Lucy that litigation will probably occur one day!

Granny, addiction I hinted at when I used the words 'mainly because of over-eating and lack of exercise.' Obviously genetics and addiction are other factors which must be considered when dealing with obesity.


Gadfly said...

Obesity is manageable; starvation is not.
Money needs to go to starving children. Poor nutrition leads to neurological impairment, poor brain developement and lots of health problems, including dying.

Parents and children need to be educated educated educated about the dangers of obesity and how to manage it - in the workplace, PTAs, schools, everywhere.Like all the anti-smoking ads and a large percentage of americans have quit.

Gadfly said...

PS: Daniel, will you for cat's sake pop over to IAB and let people know you aren't burned up or washed away so Old Woman will get off those maps of australia and news reports?

You ARE OK, aren't you?