Monday 18 February 2013
Today’s top story on BBC News, the Guardian and Sky News, among others? Some self-appointed members of the medical profession have, after the best part of a year examining what should be done about the ‘obesity crisis’, provided a 10-point action plan of all their pet policies. This is news?
These groundbreaking ideas include: an ‘experimental’ one-year, 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks; limits on fast-food joints near schools; talking to overweight patients at every appointment about their weight; more weight-management programmes and bariatric surgery (both funded in part by that fizzy-drinks tax); hospitals, and schools that are currently exempt, to have the same nutritional standards as local-authority schools; health visitors to advise parents on how to feed their children properly so that their kids don’t get hooked on sweets; a complete ban on TV advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar before the 9pm ‘watershed’.
In other words, busybody medics, who love the idea of getting stuck into our lives through taxation, regulation and medical intervention have concluded that what we need is an increase in taxes, regulation and medical intervention. This is an even bigger non-story than the ‘horsemeat scandal’.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), which produced the new report, is, in theory, a ‘united front’ of the British medical profession. It includes organisations representing surgeons, general practitioners, psychiatrists, paediatricians and so on. According to its website, it began in 1974 as the Conference of Royal Colleges and Faculties. It had 16 members who met quarterly to discuss policy related to doctors and the welfare state, had ‘no full-time officers, no permanent home and a negligible budget’.
By 1996, the website tells us, things had started to get more serious. Now it had two full-time employees and had adopted its current name. Now it has 10 full-time employees, 21 permanent members and aims to provide ‘a clear and sure voice on generic healthcare issues for the benefit of patients and healthcare professionals’. In other words, like everything else in the government-lobbying world of public health, the AoMRC is part of a growth industry.
Yet a short conversation I had yesterday with one of the doctors involved in writing the report put the whole notion of representing the medical profession into some perspective. Dr Aseem Malthotra is a cardiology registrar who, over the past couple of years, has become something of a go-to guy for the Beeb and Guardian on the issue of obesity. Malthotra basic shtick is simple: the food industry is selling us sugary, fatty junk that is killing us, all in the name of greed and profit. His worldview is downright conspiratorial. Hence, tweets like this yesterday: ‘Unfortunately our dietary advice is also co-opted by the food industry who promote the cheapest poor quality products for profit #OBESITY.’
However, when I tweeted back at him that the medical profession had some responsibility, given that the drive to produce sugary but low-fat foods was in response to official advice, Malthotra replied: ‘Most doctors knowledge about diet & nutrition comes from what they see on TV or read in magazines! #EatRealFood.’ So, if most doctors frankly haven’t got a clue about diet and nutrition, how can this report be sensibly described as ‘representing’ their collective views? And why should we accept the endless nagging about our weight - already implemented by most medical professionals I’ve had contact with - from people who don’t know what they’re talking about?
Nonetheless, in the spirit of debate, here are 10 short responses to the AoMRC report:
We certainly do need urgent action: to get the government, health campaigners and megalomaniac medics out of our lives. Something Must Be Done.
reprinted from: http://www.spiked-online.com/site/article/13351/