Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Extreme Low-Fat Farm Abusing Obese Kids

I was alerted to something quite disturbing today to say the least by my calorie-restriction friend April who told me about a California-based youth "fat farm" called Academy of the Sierras where overweight and obese children are being subject to an extreme low-fat diet consisting of nearly single-digit fat intake daily! April blogged about this here initially, then here, and finally here.

What is most incredible is the diet they have these kids eating is robbing them of some of the essential nutrients their bodies need for them to continue to grow into the healthy adults they are becoming. While they are getting 70g protein and 20g fiber, they are ONLY being fed a measly 10g fat. JUST TEN GRAMS! That's all they get daily. Yikes! They get to eat all the soups, salads, fat-free (and HIGH sugar, by the way) yogurt, fruits and vegetables as part of this wonder diet plan. The leaders of this program claim the kids won't get hungry eating this way.

Well, I guess they don't get as hungry with all of that protein they are eating. But what about the healthy fats these kids NEED for a healthy body and improved overall health? Even the American Heart Association FINALLY admitted this year that proper fat intake is important. Studies have shown eating fat improves mental health. Are these people at the Academy of the Sierras even concerned about the damage they are causing to the developing brains of these children they have been given control over? Helllllloooo?

You would think with the results of a landmark 8-year study on low-fat diets earlier this year showing them to be the big fat lie that people who are livin' la vida low-carb knew them to be would end this madness about being afraid of eating fat as part of a healthy weight loss program. This all-too-obvious fact has apparently left the good folks at the Academy of the Sierras as they continue to live in the past with their dietary recommendations centered around the archaic teachings of Dr. Dean Ornish!

But isn't it borderline child abuse what the leaders of this program are doing to these poor kids? With new research PROVING the theories they are using to induce weight loss in these children -- namely an extreme low-fat diet -- is false, then why would they still insist on using these tactics when there are much better ways to bring about the same results in a healthier manner? They wouldn't need to change their program radically to make it just as effective for weight loss AND be more nutrient-dense.

They could still have the kids eat 70g protein and 20g fiber, but have them instead begin to limit the carbohydrates to 20g daily while allowing 30-40g fat MINIMUM daily and having them avoid sugar, white flour, starchy veggies and processed foods. Why wouldn't this work better for the kids and give them a more palatable menu to eat from?

Wanna see just a sampling of what these kids have to eat now:

low-fat pizza
very lean ground turkey tacos (EWWWW!)
fat free bean burritos
veggie egg white omelettes (where are the yolks?!)
oil-free Asian stir fries
innovative pastas (what the heck is that?!)
spice apple raisin pancakes
bagels with fat-free cream cheese
Berries (the best item on this menu!)
melon wedges
fat-free yogurt
Boca burgers (mmm, mmm Boca--NOT!)
sandwich bar with very lean ham and turkey
Mexican pizza
fat-free soups
fruit salad (can you say sugar?!)
honey chicken
veggie stir-fry
“spinach baked” potatoes (say who what is THAT?!)
frozen yogurt
salad bar with fat-free dressings
carrot sticks
fat-free potato chips with salsa (yucky poo!)
oatmeal raisin bars

Can you tell me what most of those foods contains gobs and gobs of? That's right, CARBOHYDRATES!!! Jeepers creepers people, let's just send the blood sugar of these kids into overdrive now with what we're feeding them. Sheeeeez! I remember eating an obsessively low-fat diet before and it's not fun at all. If my experience is any indication of what is going to happen to these kids when they get back home, then it would not surprise me to hear that most if not all of them rebel at their new way of eating and gain back every single pound they worked so hard to lose. I don't wish that on them, but it is almost inevitable with a low-fat diet as extreme as this one is.

You can express your concerns about this dangerous and abusive weight loss program for these adolescents by e-mailing them directly. You can address your e-mail to Phil Obbard who is the Executive Director for the Academy of the Sierras. Ask him to specifically answer your concerns about the lack of good fats in the diets these kids are being put on and let me know if you hear back from him or another representative. This blatant abuse by the Academy of the Sierra MUST be stopped immediately!

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Blogger Science4u1959 said...

No amount of evidence will eradicate plain stupidity... and YES, this IS child abuse. They should be prosecuted to the extent of the law.

7/27/2006 12:45 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Ironically, the slogan of this bunch of morons is "Mens et Salvere" which is Latin for Mind and Health. Well, obviously these folks have been on a low-fat diet themselves for too long, because they sure lost their own minds a long time ago... which, incidentally, does not justify robbing these children of their health!

7/27/2006 12:49 AM  
Blogger Sweet Tart said...

Did you see the price for the summer session? 10 weeks for $13,450, or 13 weeks for $17,450. You could buy a whole lot of healthy food and even hire a personal trainer for your kid for that much money!!!

7/27/2006 1:14 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Talking of robbery! 17k+ dollars for starving children and robbing them of their health as well? Now the outrage is really complete!

7/27/2006 1:34 AM  
Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

It's not borderline child abuse - it is child abuse!

This is the sort of abuse I got as a child, at the hands of companies and experts - that lead me to get a damaged metabolism and get to 473 pounds!

Insuline resistance only gets worse over time. The damage it does is irreversable!

It's just maddness!

7/27/2006 3:08 AM  
Blogger Hellistile said...

While these poor children "may" lose some weight, the program will definitely place them on the direct path to further obesity, insulin resistance, and all manner of auto-immune and mental disorders. They are our "modern-day-conventional-nutritional-wisdom" guinea pigs.

7/27/2006 11:54 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

That is just so wrong. I feel sorry for them, it must truly be a living hell. I wish somebody, anybody, would have told me about low carb when I was a teenager. Would I have stayed on the plan? Maybe, but it would have been nice to know that I didn't have the option of being obese and over 300 pounds at the age of 13.

And at $13K a shot, damn, that's 8 years worth of beef, eggs and cheese for me! That's ridiculous.

7/27/2006 12:38 PM  
Blogger helen said...

Criminal behaviour are these people insane? One would have to think so. Considering Saturated Fats are natures anti-depressant & the medical fact that everyone seems to have forgotten that kids need a certain amount of fats ( not the trans-fats that abound in most of their diets ) for good health seems to have escaped these adults!! God save us from people that only want to do whats good for us!! whatever that means.

7/27/2006 9:41 PM  
Blogger diamondwife said...

That's awful! There are 5 grams of fat in 4 ounces of salmon cooked with no added fat. That would be half their fat for a whole day.

7/27/2006 9:43 PM  
Blogger megadittles said...

I see a movie about this...Instead of dealing drugs you can have one kids getting $50 bucks a bag of m&ms. That kind of eating is full of &%&^%^$@! I think the parents should be forced to eat that menu with their kids "THE ENTIRE TIME" and see how great it is. Poor kids.

7/27/2006 10:03 PM  
Blogger The Happy Low Carb Taco said...

It's amazing what bad science and unsubstantiated dogma can do.

I weep.

7/27/2006 10:10 PM  
Blogger April said...

I just keep hoping that it's a big misunderstanding and a misprint on their website. Helping obese teens lose weight is such a valuable service to humanity, and could be done so well and so healthfully. It sounds like the other aspects of the program are great: exercise, learning new behaviors, etc. Improving the diet would really make for a great total program, but without essential nutrients (and fat is an essential nutrient!!!) no weight loss program can be healthy.

I do hope that they change the diet based on more up to date nutritional information.


7/28/2006 7:09 AM  
Blogger Carol Bardelli said...

I eat more than ten grams of fat at breakfast! And I slipped into a size 1 last week. Somebody stop the low-fat insanity! No, not you Susan Powter.

7/28/2006 9:15 PM  
Blogger cherlita said...

I would gain weight on that diet.

7/30/2006 11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazingly enough, I went to that school. (september 4, 2006 to January 26, 2007 and the experience will last me a lifetime. the weight loss wouldn't though.
yes. I did loose weight while I was there but they lied about so very many aspects of the program. Most of the food is actually really tasty and it does keep you full.
they do teach you high fiber and low fat/calorie. and most of the stuff is actually fairly low in sugar as well. but for that we use splenda and equal. we used to even do shots of them. (my record at one meal was 93 but a friend of mine's was 211) i look at that now and feel physically sick. but we couldn't see what was wrong with that at the time. they took away our lifeline (food) and didn't teach us how to cope with that so we turned to other compulsive things (often as close to food as we could get-- fruit flavored sour mints were a big one. we were allowed to buy one pack a week at the student store and a friend of mine saved hers for weeks, finally downing them all in one night making her unbelievably sick and she wasn't the only one who did that.)
they make the exercise aspect sound great. we woke up and exercised for an hour, after school for 2 hours and at night for an hour and a half. that was an average school day for us. 4-6 hours for kids who most of had never done a sit-up in their life. Looking back I wish I had used this to my full advantage. But when they looked me in the eye and told me I was to do it or I'd get a rappel (a version of punishment) that didn't make me want to volunteer to go run around. (but i did it anyways.)
Learning new I learned how to cook and how to eat on a point. There was a big thing at AOS (now wellspring academy CA) called aftercare. Pretty much what it sounds like. Going home. It's what everyone looked forward to. They taught us how to order at restaurants and how to record the fat and calories we ate. They even took us on a field trip to a local diner.
Then there were OCC's--Off Campus Challenges. Where we would go home and practice what we'd learned at school. Then we'd come back and talk about what we'd done wrong and how we could change them the next time.
But we were in a bubble. They created a world for us so that in the time we were there we would do well. And most of us did. The minute we stepped outside of that bubble though and went home, we crashed. They didn't follow up with us like they'd agreed to (and we'd payed $500 for...haha)
I know maybe one or two people out of 120 or so that I went to school with that have kept their wight off. One lost 200 lbs while she was there and gained it back. A couple even went back to AOS. It's really sad. Last summer, (after I'd been home for awhile) I got to the highest weight I'd ever been.
Now Im on my own plan and have lost 40 lbs in the last 5 months and am no longer morbidly obese. But Im living in the real world now. I know the temptations and how to deal with them..No thanks to AOS.

Im not trying to say It was horrible there. I had the best experiences of my life there. I made amazing friends and met incredible people. But they have a long way to go before they'll be truly successful with the school.

(If you have any questions feel free to email me at

4/18/2008 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys are all morons (except Krissy). It's an amzing program... it saves a lot of lives... true, it is a hard program to stick to after you leave but if you are determined you can do it... I learned so much there and you all just sound like ignorant fools. Want to make a real judgement? Go to the school and spend a day there and then come talk to me.

8/25/2008 12:26 AM  
Blogger southernxbellex1 said...

ok so I also went to this "school".. i was there for 16 months and i lost about 150 lbs... the sick thing is that once i got back to the REAL world i gained most of the weight back.. the program is BULL****! its sick what they put us through.. my family is now in debt because of that stupid place and for what?! There was no point in me ever going there! they pretty much starve you and then expect you to wake up at 7:30 to go on a 3 mile walk.. EVERY MORNING! i had no energy at all... Honestly this place should have been closed down a LONG time ago... and Krissy ITS LINDSEYYY!!

9/11/2009 2:02 AM  
Anonymous chunkymonkee said...

I also went to this school HEY LINDS! while it was great while you were there *for a while* they treated us like criminals and none of the stuff they taught us could work in the real world *we had cooks preparing our meals and dishing it out, no one can excersize that much while at a normal school with normal school hours and homework* I lost about 70 lbs while I was there and promptly gained it back. i wanted to return but i knew that would be a mistake. I am now at my heaviest. I even had a failed lap-band experience (they put it in the wrong place!) so now I'm back to square one, trying to lose weight HEALTHILY before my friends wedding *yikes cameras!*. I did return for a weekend to do a refresher and I must say that under the new administration, *it is called Wellspring now* it is a lot different. The students are not treated as poorly and things are run a lot better. I do not regret going there especially for the friends/family I made but honestly, I should have spent the money on gastric bypass.

4/04/2012 3:38 AM  

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