Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Get Over It Lady, You're Fat!

Just when you think you've heard it all, along come a story like this one that will literally make you shake your head in disgust, especially if you are somebody who has ever been overweight or obese and/or suffered from physical problems associated with carrying around excessive weight.

Dr. Terry Bennett, a 66-year old Rochester, New Hampshire physician who graduated from Harvard Medical School, loves antiques, and completely despises HMOs, is under investigation by the New Hampshire Board of Medicine because one of his patients got offended by one of his infamous "obesity lectures for women" where he urged her to lose weight for her health and for her long-term well-being. Bennett regularly warns his clients that obesity can and will very likely lead to such debilitating conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, acid reflux, heart attack and stroke.

"I told a fat woman she was obese," Bennett says. "I tried to get her attention. I told her, 'You need to get on a program, join a group of like-minded people and peel off the weight that is going to kill you."

While it might have been a little blunt for Bennett to share his opinion about his patient's condition the way that he did, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a doctor expressing his medical assessment that one of his patients is obese and should probably do something about it. While it may anger her to hear her doctor tell her something she didn't like, she needs to use that anger to motivate herself to finally do something about a very real problem. If we cannot rely on our own doctors to tell us the truth about our physical health, then who is going to do it?

In the interview I gave recently to my local newspaper about an upcoming article they are writing about my 180-pound weight loss, I shared with the reporter a story from my soon-to-be-released book "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" about a 7th grade boy who made a similar comment that Bennett did to his patient.

I was substitute teaching at a local middle school just a few months before I started livin' la vida low-carb and this pudgy little boy waited until my back was turned to class as I wrote some instructions on the chalkboard to exclaim, "Mr. Moore is fffffffaaaat!" Predictably, the entire class burst into raucous laughter and even I laughed to try to keep from crying about the truth in that statement. Those words rang in my head months afterward and got me to seriously assess my weight and health.

Should I have sought legal action against that 12-year old rug rat for stating the obvious to me? Heck no. In fact, that kid did me a BIG favor by shaking me into reality about my morbid obesity and very likely rescued me from a heart attack or worse -- an early grave. How people respond to criticism about their weight will determine whether they will be successful at losing their weight permanently or not.

I just have just five words for this woman who is seeking action against Bennett (in the infamous words of Jack Nicholson from the movie "A Few Good Men") - YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

Ironically, everything that Bennett told this woman about her health nearly one year ago has come to pass since he told her she was obese. She has not only gained additional weight, but she has also become diabetic, has acid reflux and experiences frequent chest pains.

Bennett did the gentlemanly thing when he found out she was "offended" and penned a personal apology letter.

"That should have been the end of it," Bennett said.

Actually, though, it was just the beginning. The New Hampshire Attorney General's Administrative Prosecution Unit was dispatched to investigate and bring resolution to the complaint. They recommended Bennett attend a medical education course and admit wrongdoing. Not surprisingly, Bennett refused.

"I've made many errors in my lifetime. Telling someone the truth is not one of them," Bennett said.

You go boy! There is nothing for Bennett to apologize for because he has done absolutely nothing wrong. Nevertheless, this issue has not been laid to rest. A public hearing has been scheduled about what to do with Bennett. But what is there to talk about? What did Bennett do that is so wrong that his stellar career is now being jeopardized and tainted because of a psychotic patient who is living in some fantasy world if she thinks she is immune from being offended?

Wake up lady! I know you don't like it, but YOU ARE FAT! Your health is going to pot and you will very likely die a premature death if you don't get your weight under control as soon as possible! I wish more people would be willing to be that blunt about obesity. Then maybe we could get more people to get off their duff and take personal responsibility for themselves.

Bennett's attorney says this whole fiasco is (quoting Shakespeare) "much ado about nothing" and Bennett will not "roll over on this, he is going to fight."

"If the board wants to get into policing how doctors talk to their patients, they are going to be very busy."

Expressing his concern that one of his patients was angered by his comments, Bennett said this incident is "very disturbing" and he only wanted to help her "change her life" for the better.

Many of Bennett's patients have rallied around him in support of his methodology by signing a petition and will testify at the public hearing that he helped them get back on the road to healthy living with his honest feedback.

"Is he a fortune teller? No," said one of Bennett's patients. "He was a man trying to do his job. Whether I wanted to hear it or not, he was telling me the truth."

There's something missing in this story and that is the fact that this woman who was so offended by Bennett's comments about her obesity is the one who put herself in that position to begin with. Was it Bennett's fault that she ate and ate and ate, likely with very little exercise, and put herself in a position to become obese? Absolutely not! It was her own fault and hers alone. We each have to take responsibility for our own actions and need to stop blaming anyone else for our shortcomings.

This is not the first time Bennett has been the subject of a frivilous complaint. In a property lawsuit that went in his favor, Bennett was awarded nearly $200,000, half of which was for emotional distress. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets punitive damages awarded in this case, too, if it goes to trial.

The best possible outcome from this unfortunate turn of events will be if the woman drops her complaint, then drops her weight, and finally comes back to Bennett in about a year to apologize and thank him for giving her the inspiration to lose well over 100 pounds. Now wouldn't that make a happy ending to such a disturbing story.


Blogger Meat Waggin' said...

Tell me, as someone who has lost a pile of weight, what do you think of this kind of noise?

8/24/2005 6:12 PM  
Blogger Jeff Hamlin said...

Sorry Jimmy but you are wrong. A doctor is supposed to try and help his/her patients, not bully them with hateful comments. As a Christian, I know Jesus would never talk to anyone like that. And He is "the Great Physician" afterall.

8/24/2005 9:28 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey Meat Waggin',

THANKS for sharing the comments on this subject from the Big Fat Blog. This is indeed a hot topic of conversation.


I hear what you are saying, but we don't really know HOW this doctor spoke to his patient. I wish MORE doctors would just be honest with their overweight or obese clients and tell them what they need to do to lose weight. I also think they need to be open to recommending low-carb as a possible alternative option to low-fat.

While I would not disagree that Jesus wants us to speak the truth in love and rely on him as the Great Physician, I also know that he has given us free will to determine our own paths. If someone is harming themselves by remaining obese, then it is the duty of their doctor and even their friends and family to DO SOMETHING about it before it is too late.

More people need a wake-up call if this obesity epidemic is ever going to get under control.

8/24/2005 10:01 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

I think the doctor absolutely did the right thing. From what I've heard in the news (and I live here in New Hampshire, so it's all over the radio too) he had tried repeated times to let her know in subtle ways. None of those worked. So, this time he took a different approach, and guess what! He hit a nerve! You can't convince me that this was news to this lady. She knows she's fat! She was just offended, humiliated, and forced to face reality and didn't like it.

This is nothing different than a child throwing a temper tantrum because someone said something that "hurt" them. Well, this country is too concerned with being "politically correct" that we try to sugar coat everyting (no pun intended). Do those comments hurt? Of course they hurt! It hurt me when my doctor told me I was obese and then wrote it as my diagnosis on my chart, which I had to hand carry to the window to pay my co-pay. It was humiliating and upsetting, but you know what? I needed that. Of course I was upset, angry and 'pouted' over it. I also denied it was true for years - but finally I decided to do something about it! This lady needs to do the same, and in the end, I think she owes this doctor an apology for her behavior and for bringing the national media into the picture.

8/25/2005 9:07 AM  
Blogger The DWG said...

When I turned 40 in July 2004, my doctor did a physical and told me that at 6' and 250 pounds, I was classified as obese. He ran my blood and told me my thryoid wasn't working. He prescribed some pills, told me to reduce my portion sizes and offered some recommendations for excercise. I took the pills for a few months then quit, did yo-yo diets and started going to the gym erratically.

A year later, I've finally begun to make know why? Because I finally took my head out of my ample behind and started listening to what he said. I take my thyroid medicine everyday, work out 5 times a week, and have begun a sensible diet wiht reduced portions.

Most doctors are honest with their patients, but a lot of patients are like me: they don't listen or take accountability. Hell, going to the doctor is all I have to do...right?

8/25/2005 4:45 PM  
Blogger DrPat said...

Thanks for your comments on my post on this topic over at BlogCritics. (/, no www...) This is such a hot topic, it immediately jumped into the Hot 5 under Culture, and stayed there since posting.

As a seriously fat person myself, with a history of losing, then regaining enough weight to make two entire (slender) people, I'll be watching for your book, Livin' La Vida Low-Carb to come out.

Hope you'll consider providing a copy for a BlogCritics review!

8/25/2005 4:59 PM  
Blogger DAVE ( said...

Everyone just looks for a reason to be offended. That way they can have a reason to be angry outwardly instead of looking inwardly. Fat people take a lot of heat for being fat from the lay-people. That much is true. But when your doctor tells you its because it's a health risk, he's not being nasty.

What's next, not tell a patient he has cancer because he might take offense to it ?

I'm fat (thankfully not as fat as I used to be) and I get irritated when the fatties start talking crap about being happy the way they are. They aren't happy, they gave up. Any fatty who tells you he's happy the way he is, is lying, pure and simple. Nobody likes to have to lift his or her belly up to wash up in the shower. No one loves that big buldge of a belly getting in the way while trying to tie your shoes. No fatty can stand having to climb 3 flights of stairs and having to take a break after because he's winded and covered in sweat. And hey, show of fatty hands of those who love to have to settle on whatever clothes that fit that can be found in the store, even if you don't like it, but hey it fits. Anyone ? Anyone ? I hear the crickets. So which fatso likes the knee pain ? Anyone ?

Yeah it's what I thought.

That lady needs a reality check, pure and simple. She's fat, she should accept it and deal with the problem. This doctor, even if he were "insensitive", could have his career yanked because someone did like to be told she's fat.

And in response to Jeff about Jesus the great Physician guy. One I remember Big J throwing quite the tantrum when he flipped the vendors tables over in the temple. Being nice and loving doesnt always work. I remember in the hospital emergency room, some kid had chased 6 or 7 lines of coke with a 40oz of Burbon and took some sleeping pills. The shrink that met with him yeld at him like a madman, but it got the kids attention and from what the nurses told me in a later visit he was doing fine now. Sometimes a swift kick in the ass is what is needed. Being loving and pacifist, does not mean you should be passive, like the Big J showed in the temple.

8/26/2005 2:54 AM  
Blogger MWAWTI said...

Hey, I think it's pretty ridiculous that she decided to go after the guy. If I was offended by my doc talking to me about being overweight, I'd go to a different doctor. I doubt that any other doctor worth his or her salt would totally ignore the fact that the woman is obese, but maybe they'd have a better bedside manner about it.

THAT SAID, I did find some of your comments offensive, Jimmy. First of all, your comment that "Was it Bennett's fault that she ate and ate and ate, likely with very little exercise, and put herself in a position to become obese?" This is perpetuating a stereotype that fat people are fat because they eat a whole lot more than skinny people. Now, as someone who's followed a LC WOL, you know darn well, a calorie is NOT a calorie is NOT a calorie, and the types of food you eat can (and do) affect people in different ways. Maybe this woman had been told to eat a "healthy low fat diet" (which means eat lots of carbs). I know from experience, that's a prescription for disaster. It is one of the reasons I got so big myself, until I started low carbing.

Yes, the woman was overly sensitive and it's stupid to make such a huge deal about this. The apology she got from her doc should have been enough. But blaming her for becoming obese is a little off the mark. YES there is personal responsibility, but if you've been told by all the "experts" for your whole life, that the way to lose weight and be healthy is in fact the way for YOU to get fatter and fatter... and perhaps is enough to make you simply throw your hands in the air and surrender to what's going to happen anyway. That's what happened to me until I learned about the low carb way of life.

9/01/2005 2:03 PM  

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