Should obese and fat people be denied health care

It’s interesting what shows up in the news. ITV, a British television network, ran a program called Too Fat for for Treatment. The show gave real world of examples of how the British National Health Service denies care to those who are obese. Putting aside the arguments against nationalized or socialized health care, I had to dig into this.


According to the press reports, the denied care is for elective procedures such as a hip replacement. Yes, you read that right. Being obese will deny you a procedure such as a hip replacement, which is considered elective. Of course, one of the best ways to fight obesity is through exercise, which is made much easier and less painful when you have a good hip.

The program digs into the fact that some organization within the NHS routinely deny care to smokers and obese folks. I say “some organization” as I am not sure how they are structured. It appears that it’s a geographic breakdown, and some areas will treat obese patients.


According to Dr. David Haslam, who helped create the guidelines, the BMI measurement is way off when determining obesity risk for treatment. We’ve said it many times before, but let’s see his quote:

Technically speaking, a BMI of 30 plus means that you’re obese. But that figure in itself tells us very, very little about fitness and your medical risk.

You can have a BMI of 35 and be absolutely the fittest person on the planet because you’re fit, you’re muscular, you’ve got wide shoulders; you’ve got a narrow waist. Whereas a bloke for instance with stick arms and stick legs but a big belly, may not be obese in terms of BMI but there are too many high risks in terms of medical risk because of their abdominal circumference.

This is what you call a clarity of vision. Obesity has been the reason for many things, but saving on medical expenditures in a government program that people payed into is new. Imagine paying into a program for most of your adult life, but when you need to improve your quality of life you’re told, “Touch luck.”

There is more info on the program online. I tried to hunt down a copy of the program on ITV, but was out of luck. If anyone has a copy, please comment and let me know.