Should the obese pay toward the cost of health care?

Caroline Cassidy

In a time of tough spending cuts, should the taxpayer really be expected to fund gastric bypass operations, or indeed pay to treat those suffering with alcohol or smoking-related health problems?

NHS obesity costs, overweight man
NHS obesity costs, overweight man

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For one in three Brits, the answer is a resounding 'No'.

Of 2,000 people surveyed, the majority (69%) said adults who suffer health problems due to poor lifestyle choices, such as obesity, drinking or smoking, should pay toward their treatment.

Dr Katherine Tryon at PruHealth, which commissioned the survey, said: "People have realised that the nation's health is worse than even a decade ago and now the issue is whose responsibility is it to change this, which is particularly crucial at a time when there is increased pressure on healthcare finances."

NHS guidelines state that anyone who is so overweight that their life is at risk should be offered weight loss surgery, such as a gastric band, to control how much food they can eat.

With one-in-four people in Britain now classed as obese, perhaps it's no surprise that the number of people in England undergoing surgery on the NHS to help them lose weight has increased tenfold in the last 10 years.

But, while we're all well aware of the growing obesity crisis (more than half of those surveyed said it was the biggest challenge facing the nation's health) only 9 per cent said they were concerned about their weight.

And, although most people believed others should take responsibility for their own wellbeing, a third admitted they hadn't made any effort to improve their own health over the past 12 months.

What do you think? Should those who suffer 'self-inflicted' health problems pay for their own treatment? Leave a comment below...