No Decline in Obesity

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It is like a runaway train.  There are now 2.1 billion people in the world who are either overweight or obese. This Reuters article gives these salient points:

  • Obesity is imposing an increasingly heavy burden on the world’s population in rich and poor nations alike, with almost 30 percent of people globally now either obese or overweight – a staggering 2.1 billion in all, researchers said on Wednesday.
  • The richest country, the United States, was home to the biggest chunk of the planet’s obese population – 13 percent – even though it claims less than 5 percent of its people.
  • Obesity is a complex problem fueled by the availability of cheap, fatty, sugary, salty, high-calorie “junk food” and the rise of sedentary lifestyles. 
  • During the 33 years studied, rates of being obese or overweight soared 28 percent in adults and 47 percent in children. 
  • “The most concerning thing is that there’s not a single country that has seen a decline in obesity in the past 30 years,” study co-author Christopher Murray said

This is a losing battle and one that will drain healthcare dollars more than anything else.  But let’s grade doctors on metrics like hypertension, BMI, cholesterol and diabetes because it is our fault that the world’s population is like a bloated tick.  Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  4 comments for “No Decline in Obesity

  1. T Newberry
    June 25, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    If obesity were all about personal responsibility then it wouldn’t matter where you lived. And since the U.S. has 260% of its share of fat people, it clearly does matter where you live.

    Doctors are completely inadequate to the task of curing these conditions. Which is a little bizarre because the solution is well-known – counseling on diet and nutrition. And yet, less 1/8th of medical visits include counseling on nutrition. Even worse, 75% of physicians feel they did not receive adequate training to do the counseling. And that’s because fewer then 30% of medical schools offer what is considered the minimum level of training. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/06/23/your-doctor-says-he-doesnt-know-enough-about-nutrition-or-exercise

    So doctors it is not your fault. At least not directly. You were set up for failure back in medical school, which focused on sick care. Lifestyle counseling is considered preventive care even though it is also the only effective treatment for most lifestyle diseases, especially obesity.

    But here’s the thing. As a doctor, you KNOW these things! And if you don’t you should. How about taking responsibility for the gaps in your expertise. Stop pushing lifelong medication as the answer to chronic diseases. Educate yourself on lifestyle counseling and stop even offering the easy out of a pill.

    You will certainly lose business as many patients will seek out a doctor willing to offer them a simpler solution. But are you a doctor or just a shill for the drug companies?

    What would the father of medicine think of you?

    “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates

  2. Pat
    June 23, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Sure, then after the docs do their job by informing overweight patients that they are so, they can suffer pay penalties for low patient satisfaction scores… Or even get reported to their state medical board. ( http://www.foxnews.com/story/2005/08/24/obese-woman-angry-that-doctor-advised-weight-loss/ )

    On the upside, when the inevitable zombie outbreak occurs, being near a Dairy Queen or buffet line could definitely improve one’s odds.

  3. June 23, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Personal responsibility cannot function in ignorance. Go to the grocery and try to buy only foods with no added sugar. If you cannot understand that the “evaporated cane” on those dried cranberries is sugar, you are going to think of them as a healthy snack. Read the labels on the “100% whole grain” bread bags. There are hundreds of sneaky names for added sugar. Education is critical. I would support legislation to make food labeling more transparent. I don’t want the government to take care of me, but the manufacturers are literally getting away with murder and I want to fight back, and I feel for those who do not have a chemistry degree.

  4. June 23, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Ah, dear Doug, you miss the point entirely! We are a bureaucratic, Weberian society. The point of everything is not to do anything – it’s all about how to avoid blame and take credit for things which are far beyond the reach of one’s little cubicle.
    The matter of American Obesity is not really American Obesity, after all – like the War on Poverty, or War on Terror, such things cannot be won – and thank God for that! Otherwise, the warriors would be out of a job. One must merely posture and pose one’s selfies with the victims and the oppressed, and post it on one’s Facebook site as a Champion of the Needy.
    Sometimes I feel like Doctors are the new Evil Ones of the 21st century – the Emmanuel Goldmans whom we can gather against for the Five Minutes Hate. (See 1984, or Fascism for Dummies, by George Orwell.)
    We can shoulder the blame for everything that is wrong with our healthcare system. In twenty years, America has managed to unify the concept of Veterans’ Healthcare and Veterinary Healthcare – is there anything else we cannot accomplish?
    And we doctors rate balefully on the Whores’ Index. “Didn’t spend enough time with me.” “Didn’t seem to be into it.” “Probably only cares about the money.” Those have been complaints about prostitution ever since complaints could be sent in to the Assyrian equivalent of Press Gainey, in cuneiform.
    The only one we can do well at is “Can get me good drugs.” Other than that, we are rather pitiful on the Streetwalker Scale.
    Like racism, society is confronted with the unpleasant concept that “If it is not true, there is a horrible injustice being performed, and the perpetrator is US.” An awful, conscience-irritating concept, and let’s put some high-potency steroid on that wound to calm it down.
    You seem to talk about this issue as though people want to change or correct it. Rest assured, that like the American Public School System, it’s something to kvetch about, not to fix. American can run a Perfect Disneyland, an Excellent American Idol – we can do things if we want to. Don’t annoy us with things we really can’t care less about.

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