Great reading: Dr Chris Van Tulleken on tackling obesity
Dr Chris Van Tulleken makes a powerful case for tackling obesity to improve health and reduce the cost burden on the NHS
Writing in The Sunday Times (11 June 2023), Dr Chris Van Tulleken explains the relationship between genetics, the environment, and the rise in obesity rates. He emphasises the urgent need to address this issue, focusing on the cost of obesity, the imperative to reduce health spending by tackling its underlying causes, and welcomes the UK Government’s commitment to make drugs such as Wegovy and Mounjaro (when available) more widely available on the NHS.
Dr Van Tulleken, well known for hosting Operation Ouch with his brother Xand, argues that obesity is a complex relationship between personal genetics and environmental conditioning. He emphasises the urgent need to address this issue, focusing on the cost of obesity and the imperative to reduce health spending by tackling its underlying causes.
He highlights figures from NHS England which shows that the cost of treating patients living with obesity is double the cost of treating those with a healthy BMI (under 25), as shown below:
The cost of treating obesity
The Sunday Times article highlights the role of ultra-processed food (UPF) as a key contributor to obesity. Dr. Van Tulleken explains that UPF, which constitutes a significant portion of the average person's caloric intake, is often affordable, readily available, and convenient. However, scientific research links UPF consumption to numerous health problems, including weight gain, metabolic disease, and even early death.
Addressing obesity solely as a matter of personal responsibility and willpower is both scientifically incorrect and harmful. Dr. Van Tulleken argues that societal perceptions must shift away from blaming individuals and instead focus on the environmental factors that contribute to obesity. He stresses that obesity should be considered a disease rather than a lifestyle choice, as this perspective promotes research, treatment, and reduced stigma.
You can find The Sunday Times article here:
Published: 12 June 2023