New obesity drugs, the morality of food, and has neuroscience killed off free will?

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A new wave of anti-obesity drugs led by Wegovy (also known as Ozempic) are causing huge ripples in the medical world and popular culture. Astonishingly successful at helping people lose weight, these drugs both offer a tantalising solution to the obesity epidemic and its associated public health crisis, and have also made the pharma companies which own them staggeringly rich as demand rockets ever upwards. But ‘curing’ obesity with a weekly injection massively challenges how our culture has long viewed it, as not a medical condition to be treated but a moral failure of self-control to be repented of. Is it unwise to encourage a pharmacological fix to obesity and abandon the age-old method of ‘eat less, exercise more’? And, as our understanding of the hormonal and neuroscientific roots of cravings for food, alcohol and drugs improves, what will this mean for a Christian understanding of free will? Can we still hold onto the idea of personal responsibility for sin, if science can explain how our genetics led us to make those bad choices?
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Released on 27 Mar 2024

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