Professor Inez de Beaufort, Professor of Health Care Ethics, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, will give the Nuffield Council on Bioethics 2010 public lecture.

Whose potbelly is it anyway? Ethics, obesity and public health

Monday 26 April 2010 from 18:30-19:30 to be followed by a drinks reception (refreshments available from 18:00)

Venue: The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

Obesity is a very serious public health problem. More and more people will suffer from the consequences. Attitudes towards obese people vary from contempt (they bring it upon themselves because of a lack of discipline), to pity (they are the victims of their genes, social status or society), to laissez-faire (obesity is an autonomous choice). Different measures and policies are designed to combat the so-called ‘globesity epidemic’, but these often raise difficult ethical dilemmas. Is it acceptable to make those with unhealthy lifestyles pay their own way, e.g. buy two tickets for a flight or pay a higher healthcare insurance premium? Who is to blame: the obesogenic environment or the individual? What about the special position of children? This lecture will discuss these questions, as well as more general views on personal responsibility for health.

Inez de Beaufort is Professor of Health Care Ethics at the Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam. She is honorary member of the Dutch Health Council, and member of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, the board of the International Association of Bioethics, and the National Commission for Ethics and Research in the Netherlands. Inez is author of numerous publications on beauty and ethics, end of life, obesity, and a medical ethics soap opera in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics published a report on the ethics of public health in 2007.