Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

February 22, 2005

Locked up for being fat

Filed under: — Different River @ 3:39 pm

The [London] Sun reports that a 23-year-old man named Chris Leppard of Hastings, East Sussex, England, has been “forcibly detained” by British authorities because he is too fat. He weighs about 434 pounds. (The Sun reports his weight as “31 stones” using the British unit of weight equal to (about?) 14 pounds.)

They apparently detained him under a law normally used to detain people who are mentally ill, which Mr. Leppard is not. He was taken by police to a mental hospital, and will be held (initially) for one month.

He has been diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome, a genetic disorder which causes a chronic feeling of hunger. He came to the attention of authorities after appearing in a TV documentary on Prader-Willi syndrome.

This could set a very bad precedent. People have health problems, so they are locked up? I used to think these folks were a bit nuts, but maybe they have a point!

The people who sued the fast-food restaurants claiming that McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC Corporation made them fat were basically claiming that they themselves were not responsible for what they put in their mouths; they could not control themselves and were “victims” of the restaurants. This assertion of a lack of personal responsibility has now been turned on its head — if you aren’t responsible, you must have a mental disease and need to be locked up. I’m not saying the fast-food lawsuit lead directly to the lock-up of Chris Leppard, but they are both, in a sense, different sides of the same coin. Note that I say this as someone who is considerably overweight myself (thankfully not nearly as overweight as Mr. Leppard), and one whose weight problem is caused at least in part by other medical problems not of my own making. Still, I’m not suing anybody for it, and I don’t want to be locked up for it, either.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress