I used to get so angry when my family referred to my late brother’s alcohol and drug abuse as a “disease!” They would tell me how he was “sick,” and how I should have felt sympathy for him.

I did not.

Calling him “sick” diminished the very real fight of every cancer survivor and the plight of diabetics, people who contracted cholera, polio, meningitis, plague, and every other actual disease!

Sure, he got sick from his alcohol and drug abuse. He had liver issues, blood problems, edema, etc. Yes, he was sick. But make no mistake – alcoholism and drug abuse in and of themselves are not sicknesses. They are CHOICES. And those choices result in sometimes tragic consequences. But they are, in fact, choices. And I refuse to feel sorry for grown human beings who choose to abuse their bodies and then demand we give them sympathy and money to counter the illnesses that result from said choices!

No. Just no.

That’s why Matt Walsh’s blog entry on obesity hit home for me as well. As someone who has a hard time losing weight and must work her ass off to do so, this entry is particularly relevant.

Bottom line: stop treating choices as illnesses, stop acting like victims, and get up off your ass and do something about it.

The Matt Walsh Blog

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According to a new study, it does more harm than good to label obesity a “disease.”  Shockingly, the study finds, when you tell people that they are victims and that they have no control over their physical condition, you ultimately discourage them from attempting to improve themselves.

So when the American Medical Association suddenly decided to throw science out the window and declare that body fat is a disease like cancer or malaria, they knowingly and purposefully stoked the feelings of helplessness that many of us already struggle with on a daily basis.

They also enriched themselves by ensuring that government health insurance plans would cover obesity treatments and diet pills, but I’m sure that was totally not a factor in their decision.

Beyond the findings of this survey, there are many other problems with calling obesity a disease. Here’s one: it isn’t true.

Obesity is not a disease.

Of course it isn’t.


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9 responses

  1. “Bottom line: stop treating choices as illnesses, stop acting like victims, and get up off your ass and do something about it.”

    There it is.


  2. Not disagreeing with the substance of this post, but I disagree with the vocabulary. What is a disease? The inference in this post is that a disease is not something that can be caused by human behavior. I think there are diseases that go directly to human behavior such as cancer related to smoking. There is also a direct correlation between thoughts of stress, fear, depression, and heart disease. The point of this post is to do what you can with what you have, understanding that your behavior has an impact on your health. What makes drug and alcohol addiction especially nefarious is what happens biochemically to the body. The pleasure centers of the brain get ignited. This is the very essence of addictive behavior. So while she went choice is a huge factor in the beginning and ultimately the end of drinking and taking illegal substances, one dare not look askance at the biochemical issues related to addiction.


    1. But that’s exactly what I’m saying. There are diseases that are caused by human behavior. But to call human behavior in and of itself a disease is wrong.


  3. I used to think the same way you do, Nicki. I used to scoff at the “disease” mumbo-jumbo. Then it happened to me, and looking back at it, it’s still mind-blowing.

    Long story short, I have chronic pain in my lower back, as a result of some problems with my discs. The result was that I was on painkillers for many years, and wound up addicted to the medication. You’re correct in that I did choose to take the medication, but NO ONE chooses to become addicted to any substance.

    When I realized the extent of the problem, and just how hooked on this substance I am (and will be for the rest of my life, since addiction is never “cured”), I stopped taking the medication, consulted with my doctors, and looked for other ways to manage the pain while dealing with coming off the painkillers. Today is Day 21 of not taking the medication to manage the pain, and while it’s not fun, it’s something I have to deal with, because the alternative is living in slavery to a chemical, which I will no longer abide.

    Until you’ve experienced it yourself, you can’t imagine how horrifying addiction is. You can’t imagine looking back at your thought process and decisions and realizing just how badly you mangled things. The horror, the shame, the self-loathing, the guilt… I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

    I’ve spoken with a lot of doctors about this, and while you have a right to your opinion, the research and the knowledge within the medical community are at odds with your opinion. That said, I don’t believe obesity is a disease, either, but addiction to chemicals, yes. That’s my opinion, because I’ve been there, and will continue to be there for the rest of my life.

    Which isn’t to say I won’t continue to read your blog and enjoy it, of course. I just disagree with you on this issue, is all. 🙂


    1. Look, no one is saying addiction isn’t horrifying. In your case – ESPECIALLY – in your case, when you were prescribed something for pain and wound up relying on it to manage very real issues. But again, I cannot agree it is a disease, especially when people make choices to drink or to shoot up. You used medication to manage a real illness. You got addicted. You took steps to stop this behavior. I admire this. But the addiction itself – I cannot agree is a disease. Sorry.


    2. And by the way, note that you had the will and the choice to do something about your addiction. It’s not just admirable, but it shows exactly what I’m talking about. 🙂


    3. Yes, I was prescribed the medication to manage a real issue. That doesn’t change the fact that I continued to take it, even after I started to have niggling concerns in the back of my mind. I allowed the “I don’t to be in constant pain” to overshadow my concerns.

      The only way I realized the extent of the problem was when my wife straight up confronted me about it, and made me stop to examine my choices and actions. I guess I made it sound like it was something that came from within me, and that sadly wasn’t the case. She had to, more or less, stage an intervention and make me realize just how close to rock bottom I was getting as a result of this medication.

      It was only with her love and support that I was able to confront the less admirable parts of my personality and make a decision to change. I don’t think it was something I could have done on my own, because we lie best when we lie to ourselves.

      In any case, Day 21 and counting. With the help and support of the people who love me, I’ve managed to get this far. Thanks for the response, Nicki, and for the kind words and encouragement. 🙂


      1. Any time. I’m always gratified and somewhat proud to see people fighting something as tough as this.


  4. I’m not going to elaborate, but after fighting my weight almost all of my life, I know it’s not a disease. Thinking it is doesn’t change the fact it’s a lifestyle decision.


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