LETTER : Overeating is not a disease

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Sir: A characteristic of late 20th century Britain is the attempt to shrug off personal responsibility for any problem by labelling it a disease or syndrome. Professor James (report, 13 March) has jumped on the bandwagon by blaming obesity on "chemistry".

There is a small nucleus of unfortunate patients with pathological obesity, and they deserve our sympathy and help. But 54 per cent of men and 45 per cent of women in the UK are overweight - are they all sick? This "epidemic" has developed with affluence. Ordinary people call it "overindulgence", the unkind call it "greed" - but a disease it is not. Let us channel our precious resources into looking after those who are ill rather than those who overeat.

Hugh J Thomson

Consultant Surgeon

Heartlands Hospital