Michael Buerk
Michael Buerk has claimed the obese should be allowed to die an early death in order to save the NHS money.

The 73-year-old broadcaster said people should be free to overindulge and, if they die, they should be seen as weak rather than medically ill.

'The obese will die a decade earlier than the rest of us,' he wrote in Radio Times. 'See it as a selfless sacrifice in the fight against demographic imbalance, overpopulation and climate change.'

Obesity is not a 'national emergency' because it is just caused by eating too much insisted the BBC Radio 4 Moral Maze host.

He also queried Public Health England's claim that overweight and obesity-related ill health costs the Health Service £6.1 billion a year.

'Who can calculate how much an obese person would have cost if they were slim?' he asked.

'How much would he or she cost if, instead of keeling over with a heart attack at 52, they live to a ripe, dementia-ridden old age, requiring decades of expensive care?

'In any case, VAT on takeaways, confectionery and fizzy drinks more than covers it.'

He added that the 'freedom to make bad choices is what personal autonomy, indeed democracy, is all about' and asked 'who is to say longevity is the ultimate goal in life?'

Mr Buerk added: 'Many think that by declaring it a disease, it will reduce the stigma of fatness and encourage people to seek treatment.

'They're wrong, on almost every count. There's been interesting research on how certain genes are associated with increased appetite and there are differences in individual metabolic rates but nothing like as much as people think.

'You're fat because you eat too much. Your genes might play a part, yes. But they don't explain why obesity-related admissions to hospital have increased ten times in a decade.'