No babies for Big Fat Mamas

Unfortunately, the diet didn’t take this year, and I will have to wait until next year for the svelte figure. Mind you, there are some advantages to the ‘traditional build’, like needing your extra tonnage to break out of a H-Block prison cell. The guide diplomatically explained to me that if one of the ‘smaller’ women had gotten locked in , it would have definitely been a Fire and Resuce job. It also comes in handy after a long session with someone who has had to tell a difficult or harrowing story- a wee hug to the ample bosom seems comforting. But one thing fat women may not be doing any more is getting free IVF treatment on the NHS. The British Fertility Society has recommended that free IVF should be limited to women of healthy weight because obesity reduces success rates and adds to the risks of pregnancy.

At the moment the Government has asked primary care trusts to offer women at least one free cycle of IVF treatment, but has produced no detailed guidelines on who should qualify or any extra funds. This has led individual trusts to impose a bewildering range of restrictions. Many set different obesity limits and refuse to treat smokers and couples who already have children, even when adopted or from previous relationships. Others will not fund treatment of couples who have paid for IVF themselves. About 27,000 women receive IVF in Britain each year and around a quarter of treatments are provided by the NHS.

Once again we face the debate about the nature of the provision of healthcare, and whether we are worthy or deserving of care. While there is obviously an argument about fertility being enhanced with a healthy weight, I seem to recall we had a similar debate a while ago with the child who received non- conventional treatment for leukaemia and did very well.

If it is right to take a chance on a child where the odds are not exactly in favour, why are we discriminating against childless women who desire a baby, but are overweight? Where are we drawing the ethical lines in terms of discrimination for various treatments, and where will it stop?

  • Do you pay any less tax because you’re fat? No – well then why should you have any less right to treatment.

    End of story. Next!

  • Hidden Gem

    What is fat ?

  • rapunsel

    I think Miss Fitz you are confusing two different issues here. The issue as I understand it in relation to IVF treatment is that obesity, amongst other factors reduce the probability of successful treatment( for a technique that has not got high success rates anyway). This is not the same argument applied to smokers where the issue is not that some are smokers should not be treated because of success rates but because they may have contributed to their own illness in the first place.

    Your comment

    “If it is right to take a chance on a child where the odds are not exactly in favour, why are we discriminating against childless women who desire a baby, but are overweight?
    Your comment ”

    One might reasonably take the view that if ou are ovrweight and want IVF treatment and want it so succeed then by not losing weight you are discriminating against yourself and reducing the chances of success. Given what I understand from personal experience of the pain associated with not conceiving and the trauma of multiple miscarriages I would have thought that anyone getitng this treatment would do anything to help with it’s success.

  • Crataegus

    I have been thinking about this and high time the country took weight seriously. If people can’t look after themselves then time big brother stepped in. I think yearly health checks and boot camps in the Sperrins for all offenders. This is such a serious matter that once that needle goes over your recommended weight you loose all rights and it’s for your own good; you know it is. I mean what sort of example you are setting the next generation. We want an upright nation fit and healthy and perhaps while we are at it we could increase the tax on sweets and convenience foods.

    Let’s see what else is in our own interests, sorting out jay walkers, people who get into debt, (think of the stress they are under and the related health problems) then there are gamblers and alcoholics. I’m sure there is a few I’ve missed like going to bed late.

  • Lámh Dearg

    “fat” could be defined in many ways, these proposals are actually quite relaxed about it.”overweight” is a Body Mass Index between 25 and 30, “obese” is a BMI over 30, “morbidly obese” is a BMI over 40.

    The proposal is that women with a BMI over 37 will not be considered for IVF treatment until they lose weight.

    There are two main justifications, firstly if a women is obese the treatment is less likely to be successful, ie the woman is less likely to become pregnant and secondly, if she does become pregnant as a result of treatment then she is more likely to have pregnancy related health problems such as miscarriage, high blood pressure, small babies, premature babies all of which jeopardise both her health and the baby’s health.

    As Miss Fitz indicates the wider argument here is more significant than this specific case which is actually logical and pretty defensible, but what will be limited/prioritised next and how?

  • Rory

    The most important thing to my my mind is that those people who cannot distinquish between “loose” and “lose” (and there seem to be quite a number on this site) should be refused all medical treatment both social and private until they are able to distinquish. What would be the point of prolonging such life otherwise?

    I will come back to the serious questions this thread addresses when the “I would do this if they didn’t do that” and ” resources are limited” and “why should sick people take up the tax resources of healthy people” brigades slow down and really think about the frailty of their own existence and their very dependence on a healthy social infrastructure that necessarily includes caring for, perhaps putting foremost, the very weakest in our society, who tomorrow may include you.

    Just take a moment to think about it, please.

  • Brenda

    My neice was only 2 stone over weight and had to get down to her ideal weight for the treatment to work. I think on the NHS the treatments are limited. Is it 3 tries with IVF? I believe so.

    She has a very pretty little girl now.

    If it makes the treatment work better is that discrimination toward ‘fat’ women. I don’t think so.

  • Crataegus


    Slap on wrist!

    I never could get the hang of English; now there is another group for correction.

  • Lámh Dearg

    I don’t think many will disagree with you concerning the frailty of life, Rory.

    “There, but for the grace of God, go I” is always a valuable check on our lack of humanity.

    But …..

    Resources are undeniably limited and we will have to draw a line to our health spending somewhere if we wish to care for “the very weakest in our society, who tomorrow may include you”

    Should the fact that someone wants treatment mean that we must all pay for it?

    If I dislike the shape of my nose or the sag of my breasts am I entitled to automatic treatment at the tax payers’ expense?

    If I want a child but haven’t conceived, am I entitled to treatment?

    If I got embarrassing tattoes in my youth, am I entitled to laser treatment to remove them?

    If I get cancer through no fault of my own, am I entitled to treatment? What if I caused the cancer by exercising my right to live in an unhealthy fashion?

    If I get injured in a car accident, am I entitled to treatment? What if I was drunk and caused the accident?

    Difficult questions and no individual or group has the answers or is entitled to impose their opinion but the questions will have to be addressed by us all as a society sooner or later. Simply saying “yes” to every request is no longer tenable.

  • Brendan, Belfast

    difficult questions all, no doubt about it. But -if you want to have a baby so desperately (and that’s a fair aspirtation i know) that you actively pursue IVF at the state’s expense then i think the state is entitled to ask a few questions, such as:

    if you can’t look after yourself (i.e you are a fatty because you like chips and are too lazy to exercise) why should you be helped to have a child, at our expense, in the expectation you will wilfully neglet that person too?

    is being overweight a barrier to natural conception?

    if so – and i imagine it is, for all sorts of reasons, then are you prepared to lose weight first?

  • Plump But Fun

    Brendan, Belfast you are a fattist bully.

    Just because someone is carrying some extra weight does not make them less attractive as you imply.

    Skinny people irritate me, stupid people frustrate me and bald men make me nauseous, but you don’t hear me demanding that any of them should be treated differently by the NHS.

    And by the way I don’t like chips.

  • brendan,belfast

    well i dont mean to sound mean…….or indeed fadscist like. but by and large atupid people can’t help being stupid, bald people cant help being bald but fat people can help it. they choose to be fat.

    i am not making a judgement on them but they choose to live a certain way which makes them fat. that has a consequence, just like choosing to smoke makes a person more suspecptible to lung cancer, (but hey! i look cool when i smoke………) its a lifestyle choice.

    and chips are really nice – real, home made, thick cut chips. but not for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

  • Rebecca Black

    There was a good documentary on BBC 3 last night called “Fuck off, I’m fat” presented by a comedian called Ricky Grover. It was actually very interesting, they started off with an extra large toilet seat that was being used in the USA, he also went to a theme park to expose how small the seats are, had a jaguar car converted for a larger lady who loved her cars but couldn’t fit into them, clothes shopping with some larger teenagers and negative attitudes towards fat people.

    A lady from an organisation called the “Size acceptance movement” was also filmed talking to a class of beauticians about issues facing larger people.

    What was made clear from the programme was that larger people are discriminated against from the shops they can get clothes in, to the cars they can drive and to theme parks where they pay to get into yet can’t go on any of the rides. It is a proven fact that we are all getting fatter, when they are in the majority, will they still be discriminated against?

  • I have mixed feelings about this….both parents are obsese and it has made me determined not to be.
    But in their case it is self-inflicted and they both suffer health problems as a result.
    To my mind, the NHS is there to help sick people and if we are sick because of a lifestyle choice then we should modify those behaviours in order to allow treatment to work and to get better (chronic addicts excepted?).
    If I ever suffer a liver complaint, I will stop drinking if it allows medication to work.
    If I wanted IVF (I don’t) and was obese, I would lose weight to allow the treatent to work.
    Is overpopulation not an issue? IMO if you can’t have kids, you can’t have kids *ducks*.
    This world is bursting at the seams, and is already full of unwanted children who need a loving and stable home.

  • brendan,belfast

    Rbecca wrote: “What was made clear from the programme was that larger people are discriminated against from the shops they can get clothes in, to the cars they can drive and to theme parks where they pay to get into yet can’t go on any of the rides.”

    the point is that obesity is a self inflicted form of discrimination – people choose to be fat, they may not choose to be catholic, protestant, black, white, gay or stright. but they choose to be fat. it has a price.

    The title of the programme “Fuck off, I’m Fat.” what if it had been called, “Fuck off. You’re fat.” the aul HRC would have been up in arms!

  • Rebecca Black

    If losing weight was as simple as just eating less and exercising, would we have this many overweight people? I don’t think it is necessarily a choice.

  • brendan,belfast

    If losing weight was as simple as just eating less and exercising, would we have this many overweight people?

    yes, it is that simple. and the reason we have so many overwieght people is because they eat too much and dont exercise.

  • Rebecca Black

    Brendan, I think you are being slightly niave and simplistic about the fat problem.

    On the IVF issue, if women over 50 can receive IVF, then there is absolutely no reason why someone who is overweight shouldn’t. There are far more risks involved with older women having babies than obese women.

  • ozzy

    May be people aught to learn to cook properly rather thatn buy all the rubbish from the supermarkets that are full of goodness knows what. Cooking doesn’t have to take long.

    Improve diet, cut out the e numbers etc, could help to improve health and may be the behaviour of some people. Young people I know seem to go hyper after a visit to Macdonalds.

  • You people are all so perfect – I hope I can be as perfectly slim, beautiful and healthy as you all some day.

    If you wan’t to not treat fat people on the NHS, then fine, go ahead, but also have the decency not to tax fat people as well.

    (By the way, Brendan, it is possible to stop being Catholic or Protestant you know. Probably easier than it is to stop being fat.)

  • Sammy, no one is saying fat people shouldn’t be treated at all – at least I’m not – the point is that IVF treatment will be less effective if you are overweight, which is mostly a self-inflicted state.
    I know some people are genetecially predisposed to being obese, but I know at least one of my parents would do a lot better if they didn’t keep turning to Mr.Tayto and Cadbury’s Roses in times of emotional crisis instead of eating an apple and going for a walk to clear their head.
    Going for lunch shortly. Am going to exploit my nice fast metabolism while I can.

  • heavy-alliance-voter

    comment moderated for breach of ad hominem rule

  • Jo

    Given that we are on the verge of telling smokers when they are ill, they wont be treated if they continue smoking, can refusing treatment to the obese be that far away? (I almost said far behind.”) 🙂

    I am reminded of Homer Simpson running around shouting: “It’s a glandular problem, its a glandular problem!” That might be the only excuse accepted, someday…

  • brendan,belfast


    i dont think i am being naieve. show me the fat person that cannot be helped by eating less and exercising more. no such thing.

    Sammy – i am afraid that in Northern Ireland you cannot stop being a prod or taig. Do you think that not going to mass anymore protects say non practising Catholics in Ballymena from having their homes attacked? Do you htink the IRA singled out church going Proestants for attack during the bad old days? my point is you cant help being born into a certain tradition.

    You can help from being fat. see above.