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September 22, 1993

Futility and Avoidance: Medical Professionals in the Treatment of Obesity

Author Affiliations

University of Kentucky Lexington

JAMA. 1993;270(12):1423. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510120044017

To the Editor.  — As a physician who is not involved in the treatment of obesity, but who himself is obese, I have often pondered the same questions as Dr Frank.1 Certainly, at a time when it is fashionable to claim that alcoholism and drug abuse are illnesses whose treatment should be covered by health insurance, it is inconsistent to blame fat people for their own condition. Attributing obesity to poor self-control and overindulgence makes as much sense as the reasoning of patients with diabetes insipidus who believe that the cause of their frequent urination is the fact that they drink so much water.There can be no question of the genetic origin of obesity. Fat parents tend to have fat children. Subjectively, obesity seems to be unevenly distributed among different ethnic groups, although I know of no conclusive studies on the subject. It is my impression, for example,