Obesity and Obligation

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 25 (1):89-110 (2015)
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The belief that obese people ought to lose weight and keep it off is widespread, and has a profound negative impact on the lives of the obese. I argue in this paper that most obese people have no such obligation, even if obesity is bad, and caused by calorie input exceeding output. Obese people do not have an obligation to achieve long-term weight loss if this is impossible for them, is worse than the alternative, or requires such an enormous effort in relation to what stands to be gained that this option is supererogatory rather than obligatory. It is highly plausible that most obese people fall into one of these three groups. Politicians may still have obligations to fight obesity, but they ought to do so through progressive politics rather than blaming and shaming.

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Sofia M.I. Jeppsson
UmeƄ University


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