Bioethics Discussion Blog: Who Should Be Held Responsible for Your Unhealthy Lifestyle?

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Who Should Be Held Responsible for Your Unhealthy Lifestyle?








Unfortunately, unhealthy lifestyles are all around us and maybe even some of them belong to us. I
am writing about eating practices leading to obesity and associated diabetes or heart disease,
smoking leading to chronic lung disease and cancer, alcohol abuse leading to liver disease and
mental illness along with drug habituation leading to numerous consequences. There are other
unhealthy lifestyles that one can suggest.

There appears a basic question when considering the ethics and responsibilities related to unhealthy
lifestyles.  Who is primarily responsible for the individual's pathology and its consequences? And
beyond the patient bearing the physical or psychological costs of the illness itself,should others
be considered as responsible toward continuation of that style or the monetary costs and other
impacts regarding medical care which result from that patient's lifestyle? Should parents,
politicians, physicians, manufacturers, media or society in general be responsible for either
promoting the starting of the bad health habits or failure to educate or prevent such habits and
therefore bear the costs.

On the other-hand if,in fact, lifestyle selection and its continuation is really being set by the
individual's genetics and that development of an unhealthy lifestyle is simply an immutable matter
initiated and continued by the individual's genes does that mean that neither the individual or
anyone else can be pointed at as being responsible?

In selecting to post this thread, I wasn't really thinking of going deeply into the philosophical
or political aspects of unhealthy lifestyles (for that you might want to read an article
"Lifestyle, Responsibility and Justice" by E.Firing in the Journal of Medical Ethics 2008 and which
can be obtained by this link), what I wanted is for my visitors who, for examples, continue to
smoke or who are obese and avoid dieting, tell us who they feel could be considered responsible for
the consequences of their life style and why.  ..Maurice.

p.s.- By the way, on another issue, is it right for doctors to use the word "obese" when telling a
patient who meets the medical definition of obesity? Maybe this topic will be for another thread
like "What words doctors should not speak to their patients?"

Graphic: From Freepic.com via Google Images

1 Comments:

At Saturday, May 11, 2013 9:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People have the right to live the lifestyle of their
choice as long as they don't impose on others,yet,
who should pay the burden from an economical
standpoint. Should healthcare insurance companies
set a standard as to what they deem an expensive
lifestyle. Certainly copd, bronchitis,atelectasis and
other lung disorders from smoking are expensive,
to treat,but then so are genetic disorders that are well beyond the control of many people who attempt to
live a healthy lifestyle.

Many hospitals have become ill equipped to
accommodate the obese patient, from wheelchairs
to gurneys and the difficulty in obtaining adequate
iv access have become hugh burdens on the healthcare
system to say the least. In the final analysis we all will
pay in the way of higher premiums for those who choose to smoke, drink and eating excessively. Yes,
obesity is an appropriate term and I believe too many
clinicians have in the past chosen more kindly words
in a more politically correct fashion which in no way
impacts the true severity of this growing medical
problem in our society.

PT

 

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