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Welcome to the Medical Ethics blog!

11 Sep, 08 | by cfolkes

Medical ethics is a fast moving field where there is always some new scientific or political development to analyse and discuss.

It is difficult for a journal like the Journal of Medical Ethics (JME) to keep up with these day to day developments in its print version, but we hope to do it in this blog.

In the future we will bring you a range of posts:

1. Our own musings on all things ethical
2. Quick reviews of the most important new books as they appear and some old books before they disappear
3. Reports from interesting and not so interesting conferences
4. News about what the JME is doing and about interesting ethics papers in the JME’s sister journals

For those of you who are UK based we will also try to keep you up to date with the activities of the Institute of Medical Ethics who is a co-owner of the JME.

The regular contributors will be David Hunter, Iain Brassington and Søren Holm, but other people may also contribute from time to time.

We hope that you will become involved in the discussions and help us to make it an interesting place for all.

But let me stop waffling on about the blog and instead try to write something about medical ethics. At the end of this week I and many others will be at the International Association of Bioethics world congress in Rijeka in Croatia. One of the panels I will be participating in is on the ethics of eating and obesity and my paper is on the responsibilities of parents of obese children.

Just last week the UK Conservative’s health spokesperson said that “Tell people that biology and the environment cause obesity and they are offered the one thing we have to avoid: an excuse…” and went on to emphasise personal responsibility and choice. But it is a fact that biology and the environment and many other factors cause obesity. We live in an obesogenic society with easy and cheap access to high energy foods and not much need for vigorous physical exercise. It is difficult to see why we should suppress that knowledge just to emphasise personal responsibility. We have to remember that in this case there is more than enough responsibility to go round. Parents may be somewhat responsible, but so is the food industry, governments and many other factors. And for some of those other factors it must be music to their ears to hear politicians play down biology and the environment.

So could we please have a sensible discussion! Yes, I am somewhat personally responsible for being overweight, but that does not automatically make me morally blameworthy and it does not automatically mean that I am best placed to do something about it.

Søren Holm
Editor in Chief, Journal of Medical Ethics

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