Thursday, August 02, 2007

British Medical Association Head Is Right, The Obese ARE Being 'Greedy'

Dr. Hamish Meldrum under fire for comments, but he's spot on

It's not often that I find myself in agreement one of the leaders of a major health organization since most of the time they get it all backwards, but I have nothing but great admiration and respect for the head of the British Medical Association right now because of his response to the growing trend by obese people in the UK to pop a pill to deal with their weight problem rather than taking the appropriate actions to change their diet and health through lifestyle changes.

After reading what Dr. Hamish Meldrum was quoted as saying in this This Is London column, I just about jumped up out of my seat and cheered him for having the courage to say what needed to be said. Although he's getting railed by everybody and their momma for being insensitive and cruel towards fat people, I think he was simply stating what most people are already thinking but were too afraid to say out loud.

Dr. Meldrum has been disgusted by the trend he sees dieters using to seek out the next miracle "magic bullet" in the form of a pill that will help them lose weight. I've blogged about this many times before whenever the latest obesity pill is released and marketed to the public--Acomplia, Obestatin, Relacore, and most recently the over-the-counter weight loss drug called Alli.

The dirty secret behind these pills (in case you haven't heard and/or figured this out for yourself yet!) is you have to eat a low-fat, low-calorie diet in order for them to be effective. Jeepers creepers! If I have to do THAT in addition to taking these risky medicines, then I think I'll just stick with livin' la vida low-carb thank you very much!

Desperation has set in among hopeless people who want to lose weight at any cost and it hits even those who don't have a lot of weight to lose like Britney Spears last year following her second pregnancy. Plus, why else would excitement ensue over the supposed discovery of an obesity vaccine as if it's some sort of disease you can catch?! Come on people, let's get real here! Obesity is NOT a disease, but rather a conscious choice that people make for themselves.

Dr. Meldrum agrees that this constant obsession over the issue of obesity is very likely what is leading the overweight and obese to abdicate their responsibility to do something about it. Describing this issue as a disease has given doctors a license to treat it medically with drugs rather than insisting on their patients to try implementing effective lifestyle changes.

AMEN TO THAT! People don't like hearing the truth about their weight problem and then lash out at doctors who are forthright about it. That's why many doctors are turning a blind eye to their patient's obesity because they don't want to risk the scorn and even potential legal liability of confronting their patients with this (remember this Florida police chief who got fired for creatively trying to motivate his pudgy officers into shape?).

The bottom line, Dr. Meldrum says, is the medical profession is going about treating obesity in all the wrong ways without addressing the real problem.

"We are saying, 'This patient has a hyper-appetite problem' rather than, 'They are just greedy,'" he contended.

He added that obesity is not a medical issue, but rather a "societal" problem (that needs to be addresed by the individual) that will not go away just because of the creation of risky new pharmaceuticals which only serve to hide the symptoms of the bigger problem.

"We are in danger of over-medicalizing," Dr. Meldrum continued. "The evidence of anti-obesity drugs is not good. The evidence for effective intervention in primary care for obesity is very weak."

Then why is this the primary way we treat obesity in 2007? You see more news stories and attention given to anti-obesity drugs and gastric bypass surgery than you do the promotion of dietary changes and natural lifestyle interventions. There needs to be more confronting of obese people with these options rather than the more "extreme" measures that are currently considered the norm.

With self-imposed goals to reduce the number of obese people in the UK, doctors are trying to fudge the numbers artificially to make the cut. Dr. Meldrum is disgusted with this and says it is the wrong way to bring about changes.

Over a million obesity drug prescriptions were written in the UK last year raking in 47 million pounds in 2006 alone for the drug companies. This represented a sharp increase of 16 percent and those numbers are still on the rise.

The only thing that will work is lifestyle change and these medicinal responses have an "effectiveness...under dispute," Dr. Meldrum contended. Especially for children, simple changes in diet and physical activity could be all that's needed to bring about the necessary reductions in weight needed to live a long, healthy and productive life well into adulthood.

Lest his concerns are misunderstood (which they were!), Dr. Meldrum reiterated that he is open to all methods for treating the obese.

"I am not saying we should not look at how we can medically treat people who are very obese," he asserted. "But to me it is obviously an issue where prevention is better than cure."

I could not be more proud of Dr. Hamish Meldrum from the British Medical Association than I am right now for saying what needed to be said. We need even more fearless leaders in leading positions of health authority willing to speak out on behalf of the truth like this even when it is unpopular. That's the only way we'll ever see meaningful changes come about in regards to obesity and health.

THANK YOU Dr. Meldrum and NEVER stop talking about this issue!

Share your comments with Dr. Hamish Meldrum using this BMA contact page and be sure to share your gratitude to him for being so forthright on an issue of grave importance. Perhaps his American counterparts could follow suit? Yeah right, who am I kidding?!

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Blogger Paul said...

I wonder if Dr. Meldrum will have a change of heart because "he's getting railed by everybody and their momma" and offer an "apology" like people on this side of "the pond" do.

8/02/2007 11:55 PM  
Blogger robert said...

Nice post.

We've a real problem with obesity.

In fact I recently blogged about this exact thing here:

In short: In May of 2002, the World Health Organization announced a rise in obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Remarkably, this occurred not only in affluent developed nations - but also among developing nations in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, where malnutrition was once the major dietary issue.

Obesity in the developing world can be seen as a result of a series of changes in diet, physical activity, health and nutrition, collectively known as the ‘nutrition transition.’ As poor countries become more prosperous, they acquire some of the benefits along with some of the problems of industrialized nations. These include obesity.

Since urban areas are much further along in the transition than rural ones, they experience higher rates of obesity. Cities offer a greater range of food choices, generally at lower prices. Urban work often demands less physical exertion than rural work. And as more and more women work away from home, they may be too busy to shop for, prepare and cook healthy meals at home. The fact that more people are moving to the city compounds the problem. In 1900, just 10 percent of the world population inhabited cities. Today, that figure is nearly 50 percent.

Read more here:

8/03/2007 3:32 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Good point, Paul! :-~

THANKS for your comments and your excellent blog, Robert!

8/03/2007 7:06 AM  
Blogger melodiegale said...

I think there is an underlying aspect to the good doctor's rant, and that is the UK has a very stretched out system of socialized medicine. Think about how many dollars are being spent to treat the "greedy" that could be spent on people awaiting MRI's and other diagnostics because they have real problems like cancer. I heard a story the other day about an elderly lady in the UK who was 107 years old, and her hearing aid needed to be replaced. She was told to get in line, it would be an 18 month wait. Who has 18 months when you are 107.

Bottom line is we better wake up and smell the coffee (or is that donuts)and get real about taking responsibility for our own health. God forbid, socialized medicine may be just around the corner for us too. When that happens, I plan on depending on the "Melodie Health Care System" not the government.

It would be interesting to see how much stomach stapling and diet meds are dispensed in Canada and the UK compared to the United States.

By the way, I've done a little traveling in Europe, and the UK seems to have the most packaged processed foods on their shelves of any of the countries I've visited. You won't find as much of that stuff in Franch or Italy. Unlike the stereotypes, native Italians are not for the most part fat. They are small and quite lean, whereas the British as a whole are shaped pretty much like us.

8/03/2007 8:37 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Jimmy, I posted this on my blog, so I figured i better post it here too.

I just read Jimmy Moore's blog about how the "British Medical Association Head Says Obese are Greedy". In the article he says that fat people are just lazy and would rather take pills than change their lifestyle. He also said being fat is not a disease, but a choice.

Are you serious Jimmy? Lazy? Greedy? As a former fat person, I am sure you remember feeling willing to do just about anything in order to loose some weight? I have been fat for thirty years (off and on), and do you think i chose to be this way? Hardly. I have been dieting for thirty years, taking whatever advice I could get on how to loose weight. Unfortunately, most of the advice didn't work, and the weight just kept coming back. I have also taken pills to loose weight (also didn't work for long). I went to the doctor 7 or 8 years ago and he found I had high triglycerides and hight cholesterol, and you know what he told me? Nothing! That's what! On the sheet with all the blood work, at the bottom there was advice to watch my fat intake. That is it! Well, at the time, I was watching my fat intake, I was also exercising every day. What more did he want?

As for fat people wanting a magic pill to help them get thin, well, who wouldn't? If you get sick, and there is a pill to cure you, you would take it, I know I would. We fat people take full responsibility for how we look, but changing it is not as easy as it looks. There are tons of medical articles out there telling us that our fat is genetic, diets don't work, we have thrifty genes, or whatever, it makes us feel hopeless. But we still try. That is not lazyness or greed, that is dedication.

I know that my fatness is a disease. I have diabetes, and every time I eat carbs, I get fatter. I didn't know this until recently. Now that I know, I am working to overcome this problem by not eating carbs. That is not lazyness. I was not lazy for the thirty years of dieting up until now. I did my homework, I tried every diet. I just didn't have good information.

If you want to know what I think would help, is if our doctors would help us by suggesting a plan of action. Like I said, my one doctor just noted on a page that I should watch my fat. My current doctor, when asked simply said "Go low carb", leaving it to me to figure out what she meant when the ADA still says it is dangerous. Thank goodness, I finally read Dr. Bernsein's book, because he made clear to me what I needed to do.

8/03/2007 11:01 AM  
Blogger mrfritznyc said...

I'm stating the obvious, but perhaps his message would have come thru better if he hadn't indulged in the name calling. did he really need to call overweight individuals "greedy?" that's just not right...

8/03/2007 12:02 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for sharing your thoughts about this subject, Amy! I did not come to my conclusions quickly about this. The more I've thought about it, I realize that there are many who want the quick way out--a pill--to solve their obesity.

They don't see lifestyle change as the FIRST option and I think that is shortsighted. I wouldn't say overweight and obese people are necessarily lazy or even greedy (that was the BMA head's description), but they do want the results to happen with little effort on their part.

Therein lies the problem.

What Dr. Meldrum was saying is to stop dieting and start living better. That's a good message that just about anyone promoting health can get behind. The sad part is people allow their emotions about this issue to get in the way of what they need to do.

Calling obesity a disease, as Dr. Meldrum also noted, has brought about treatment options for it that don't need to even be on the table. To me, it's better to share healthy all-natural dietary choices for dealing with obesity than prescribing a drug which may or may not help with weight loss and could have some strange side effects.

Being fat is not an illness. It is a condition that people have allowed to happen to themselves from making poor choices in their diet and lifestyle for the vast majority of people.

Diabetes is a disease and I couldn't agree with you more about controlling your carb intake to keep your disease at bay. CONGRATS on that and keep it up! :)

I also 100% agree with you that doctors need to play a more pro-active role in helping their obese patients with a strong plan of action like livin' la vida low-carb rather than turning a blind eye. That's what people like Dr. Eric Westman at Duke University and Dr. Mary C. Vernon in Kansas are doing for their patients with AWESOME results!

THANK YOU again for your comments, Amy! You added some excellent points to ponder to this important conversation. :)

8/03/2007 1:56 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Thanks Jimmy for not getting angry with me for my little outburst. I know it is my fault I am fat, but I just don't like to hear it. :-)

8/03/2007 3:16 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Actually, I appreciate your perspective, Amy! As a former morbidly obese man, I didn't want to hear and believe that I had any responsibility for my weight problem either. But losing 200 pounds and keep it off for several years has changed my perspective. That's why I'm so confident and hopeful for others who feel they are destined to be fat forever. It's just not true!


8/03/2007 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amy's perspective is more real for more people than the image of greedy fat people not trying.

People just want something that works. Doctors, mainstream weight loss like WW, and the govt nutritional guidelines have not provided it yet.

I think you're calling the wrong people "greedy." Who is it that's making money right now from producing, and medically recommending, more carbs than most people can burn off?

8/03/2007 5:14 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

For the record, it was Dr. Meldrum that called the obese "greedy." :)

I tee-totally agree with you that the food and drug industries are making a killing on both ends of this spectrum.

It still falls back on the individual to make the best choices for themselves.

8/03/2007 5:47 PM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

Do we call 'rats' in a cage that are addicted to a drug or substance for testing purposes greedy? I guess they are, they are addicted and clamor for more and will fight to the death for there addictive substance and hoard and defend same. Overpowering want and desire and greed can be seen as the same thing, not unlike rationalization. Ultimately we have to overcome these addictions and cravings in order to heal ourselves, that's for sure but I think that 'greed' oversimplifies an enormous addiction epidemic to sugar and carbohydrates that are in turn killing us and are in fact very real and true, serious addictions.

8/03/2007 8:30 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Here's a comment one of my readers asked me to post for her about this blog post:

Hi Jimmy,

While I thoroughly enjoy every post you write and tend to agree with nearly all of them, I am really stunned that you would support Dr. Meldrum's name calling, and add insult to injury with further "fat bashing" of your own.

When I was raising my children I learned to always let them know that I may be displeased with their behavior, but without attacking who they are. I may have said to my son that it was wrong to break your brother's toy, but I did not call him names or tell him he was wicked or immoral, nor did I blame his brother for having had his toy broken.

Of course it's true that some obese people overeat, and eat junk foods, etc. but there are legions of obese people struggling and doing everything right, and still not becoming thin. On the other hand, there are also legions of THIN people whose lifestyle habits are deplorable, and nobody is calling them greedy. It is shocking that a doctor in his position would resort to such disgraceful tactics. Mind you, the fact that many obese people are not taking responsibility for their actions is not the point! Whether they are or not, they do not deserve to be called derogatory names.

I am a low carber, but I still have a deranged metabolism. A strict Atkins diet, while it worked for me 30 years ago, doesn't do the trick anymore. I have been at this for a very long time, have successfully lost (and kept off) 39 pounds, but it is only about a third of what I need to lose, and I find that eating the healthiest diet (green vegetables, very few healthy fats, and lean proteins) in the neighborhood of 800 calories a day, in addition to daily vigorous exercise, is absolutely necessary for my scale to budge downwards even a little bit. Yet I am still obese, and, therefore, according to you and Dr. Meldrum, "greedy and obese by conscious choice". I, and I'm sure there are others, find that statement insulting and outrageous. How can you label (Type II) Diabetes a disease but not obesity? Diabetes doesn't strike people out of thin air; it is caused by the same types and amounts of foods that cause obesity. I have been a patient of both Drs. Atkins and Bernstein; I am very fortunate that I learned how to control my conditions via a low carb lifestyle. But it doesn't follow that people who are diabetic are sick and deserve medical treatment while those who are "just" obese are greedy and consciously chose to be that way!

Let me be perfectly clear now- I agree with you that pill-popping is not the answer. I agree with you that each of us needs to take personal responsibility for our own health. I certainly agree with you that a healthy low carb lifestyle is the way to go. And I congratulate you on your fabulous weight loss, your wonderful book and blog, your tireless dedication to the cause, but putting forth a "holier-than-thou" attitude towards some of the hapless people who haven't yet "seen the light" can only serve to be counterproductive in the end. Remember, you'll always catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Oops, maybe that was a bad proverb to use for a low carb blog! :-)

I wish you continued successes in your personal quest for health and thinness, as I eagerly await each day's blog that you write, to inspire me on my own journey. Thank you so much for all that you do for the low carb community.

Very best,
Maddy Mason

THANKS for your opinions, Maddy! I certainly can appreciate that perspective and it's a common one shared by many.

However, we are at the point in this obesity epidemic that we need to stop pandering to those who have a problem and start putting the onus of responsibility on them to find what will work for them to lose weight and get healthy.

If they continually wait on the next great diet pill, then they'll NEVER actually implement any meaningful lifestyle changes that will get them to where they need to be. I don't consider this being "holier than thou" but rather sharing what needs to be said to help others get where I have.

THANK YOU again for your support for the work I am doing and I encourage you to comment anytime!

8/04/2007 6:08 PM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

It's been my experience that these obese people have given up, not that they are greedy or lazy! A lot of people have reached the point of futility after years and years of trying. That's where I was until I nailed this 'sugar addiction', it gave me a new lease on life but most people are not aware of this addiction or aware of the fact that it's cure can also cure there obesity, so they are still stuck in 'futility', it's sad! Look how few take seriously anything I have to say! Basically nobody! This addiction thing is basically unknown! It's not dealt with as an addiction!

8/04/2007 7:32 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

So what needs to be done to give hope to those who have given up?

8/04/2007 7:52 PM  
Blogger The Bunnell Farm said...

I don't know. I was one of the lucky ones that knew that sugar was poison all along so for me the enlightenment that came with the discovery that carbs and sugar were the same thing was easy but most people are not aware of this fact and are not even aware of the fact that sugar and HFCS are pure poison, much less carbohydrates. Then try talking about the addiction to these things! They think your crazy and go there merry way! The only reason I was able to understand all this is that my drug experiences taught me how simple 'high' is! It's like you just 'feel good'! So I was able to equate this to sugar and in turn carbs and the 'high' that they give and also to equate the addiction into all of this. The average person is not going to be able to grasp this. They think they just like these things. Like the people who will tell you they like there cigarettes. They have no idea that the only reason they like them is because of there addiction. Caffeine is the same way. How to convince people that sugar and carbs are stimulant addictive drugs is almost impossible. Like bread and corn on the cob and potatoes. We get 'high' on them but we don't know it. Our minds and emotions are also very much effected by all this but we don't know that either. Look at the vegetarians. Tons of sugar and totally high but totally without a clue. This thing is so huge and so far reaching that it defies description. George Bush is high on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, try selling that one. His mind and emotions and decisions are also effected by these stimulants, try selling that one too. I can't find an inroad to these basic facts and understandings. The only thing I can guess is that if two people begin to understand this and then eventually three people and then on and on over time and eventually hundreds and then thousands, which will happen because anybody that tries this does learn these facts just by accident. Like your knowing sugar is 'rat poison', you haven't always known that. It's earth shattering stuff once it finally surfaces. Look at all the gang insanity with the stimulants cocaine and crack and meth and weed. It's obvious what stimulants do at this degree. The sugar and carb degree is also very visable when understood. So I guess it's going to be a long hard learning process. That's all I know!

8/04/2007 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Maddy daft? Very few healthy fats, greens, and LEAN proteins? Only 800 calories a day? I call BS on that one.

8/05/2007 1:15 AM  
Blogger mf said...

We do need to be careful about over-medicating in this society, but I think you need to take a look at alli more closely. If you look at The alli Diet Plan book, the author, Dr. Caroline Apovian, makes it very clear that alli is not a magic pill, but instead helps you lose even more weight when you start changing your eating habits and live a healthier lifestyle. The book has been a great tool for me to learn how to make smarter food choices and to cook more sensibly. It encourages the behavioral changes you need to keep weight off for good.

10/23/2007 1:55 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS mf and CONGRATULATIONS on your weight loss. In my personal studies about nutrition based on my own high-fat, low-carb dietary intake over these past four years, there are so many reasons why you NEED fat in your diet and much less carbohydrate. I encourage you to read Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes to learn why fat is necessary for a healthy diet.

As for Alli, I'm glad it's working for you so far. But the drug maker even admits that you must eat a low-fat, low-calorie diet in conjunction with an exercise routine for the weight loss to happen. That's all well and good, but why would I want to do that AND take a pill like Alli?

Plus, if I were to eat my high-fat, low-carb diet, Alli would create all sorts of problems that I don't even want to think about it. Again, the pharmaceutical company that created this drug ADMITS you can't eat fat and keep your drawers clean. Livin' la vida low-carb works fine on its own without the need for any kind of drug.

Low-carb gives me all the balance I'll ever need. It's been that way for nearly four years and will continue to be that for me in the 40+ years the good Lord keeps me on Earth.

Again, if Alli is working for you and you feel good doing it, then who am I to stand in your way? I'm proud of you and wish you nothing but continued success. At some point, though, you will want to come off of the drug and eat a more natural, healthy diet.

The low-carb lifestyle is one of the most natural, healthy, whole food ways to eat you could ever pick. Best wishes to you in your continued journey. Please contact me anytime you have any questions. :) THANK YOU for your comments.

10/23/2007 2:35 PM  

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