Monday, February 21, 2011

The medical profession buries its failures

There are various levels on which the calls for public funding of bariatric surgery are severely fucked up, but the most obvious one is that it's an attempt by the medical profession to bill us for its obstinate refusal to face the fact that its dietary guidelines are just plain wrong. This article on Stuff this morning provides a handy illustration.

Two things this article highlights that ought to be really obvious to epidemiologists, if they were scientists rather than activists:

1. After decades of having epidemiologists and nutritionists demonising fat and meat, and telling people to eat a "healthy" high-carb diet instead, and medical practitioners dutifully passing on this old cobblers to their patients, the number of morbidly obese people has skyrocketed. Does this suggest to epidemiologists, nutritionists and medical practitioners that perhaps those dietary guidelines need looking at? No, it suggests to them "Oh my God! Major surgery is the only answer!" Feel free to bang your head on your desk at this point...

2. The article points out both women featured in it are at risk of the effects of type 2 diabetes, such as gangrenous limbs or blindness, but attributes the cause of this risk to their being overweight and asserts bariatric surgery would solve the problem by removing the excess weight. This is a serious and obvious correlation=causation error. To see it, consider the possibility (hell, the extreme likelihood if you study this shit) that morbid obesity and type 2 diabetes are not a cause and its effect, but are both symptoms of a different problem - if they are, just removing the excess weight obviously isn't a solution to that problem.

The kicker in all this for the long-suffering taxpayer, who is footing the bill for publicly-funded bariatric surgery, is the dietary recommendations for people who've had bariatric surgery. One site sums it up as "for the rest of your life, protein will be your top priority when making food choices." Well, yeah - if you do that, the weight won't come back. And if this dietary advice had been recommended for the general population the last 40 years or so, the weight may not have turned up in the first place, and we wouldn't be seeing demands for public funding of bariatric surgery. The power of a false premise firmly believed in, huh?

6 comments:

gravedodger said...

Food in guts over energy needed = fat on body.
Bariatric surgery be buggered, sew their bloody lips together and let them take nutrients in through a straw.
As for nutritionists and other "health professionals", balance is what is needed not fibre, protien vitamins or calories carefully measured, then a good walk around the block or some stairs. Fast and processed food is rarely cheaper. An apple or a banana is a good lunch.
Bloody experts bah.
How many operations to relieve chronic pain, correct health issues, and restore mobility caused by years of toil will be delayed or denied while self indulgent lard arses who have sat on their aforementiond lard get publically funded bariatric surgery.

Anonymous said...

This is the same science mentality that tells me there's no God.

Judith said...

Psycho Milt hits the nail on the head. Gravedodger doesn't.

Psycho Milt said...

I love your post on lard, Judith.

Food in guts over energy needed = fat on body.

As with a lot of things, it's not actually as simple as calories in vs calories out. There are costs to extracting those calories from the food, and some foods have a lower cost than others.

Look at it like refining fuel - we have to refine petrol from crude oil, so however many kilojoules we get from the petrol has come at a cost of all the kilojoules expended on refining it. Now suppose you could get petrol straight out of the ground and prepare it for use in vehicles with very little refining - you get the same number of kilojoules in the petrol, but the amount you've expended to get them is a lot less.

When you eat a steak, you're refining petrol from crude - it's a laborious and time-consuming chemical process to turn that steak into blood sugar, and your body carries the cost of it. But when you eat a slice of white bread, you're getting petrol straight out the ground - your saliva is breaking those complex sugar molecules down into simpler ones before it even hits your stomach, and it's starting to hit your blood stream as pure glucose within a couple of minutes of you eating it. Same calories going in, not the same in actual use.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Apropos of not a hell of a lot Milt, you might not know that much of the light crude oil extracted in North Western Australia may be tipped straight into the tank of a diesel motor after filtering and woopdee dooo, off you go.

Anonymous said...

its interesting how many dieticians are overweight.
The type 2 Diabtetes sustained in obesity is from an inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin. The insulin produced is soaked up by the Adipose (fat) cells, thus leaving less for the liver to be able to respond to the increased blood sugar.