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Vegetarianism in the News



July 1, 2013 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

AMA Declares Obesity a Disease; Is That Really Enough?

When the American Medical Association labeled obesity as a disease, they in essence turned the health care world upside down. What a boon this new disease will be for the pharmaceutical industry! But is the blue or pink pill the answer? A new breed of physician is saying that lifestyle changes including nutrition might be the solution to prevention and treatment of obesity.

Big Pharma didn't have much luck convincing people they suffered from a dreaded disease called restless leg syndrome. Though the drug companies flooded the TV channels to convince people there was a cure, viewers didn't wake up their restless legs and walk them to the nearest pharmacy.

American Medical Association Now the drug companies can drive their researchers nuts working them mercilessly 24/7 to create a new super pill that will make you skinny and keep you that way. With this new diet pill you can eat as much junk food as you want and still be thin. But there are nasty little surprises called side effects.

Here are some scenarios:

  • Your liver goes wacko thinking the pill is some kind of poison.
  • You experience stomach distress with cramping, gas, and diarrhea.
  • You suffer from insomnia.
  • You have constipation and headaches
  • You may become lightheaded and dizzy.

Rest assured, though, the drug companies will conduct numerous studies to show that their new diet pills are safe and effective. A year after the drugs are released they might be withdrawn from the market because some of the MINOR side effects may include heart attacks and strokes.

The doctors' arsenal
If it isn't a pill to cure obesity, then doctors turn to drastic measures like gastric bypass and lap band surgery, band-aids that may reduce weight at the expense of overall health. Doctors are literally befuddled about how to help their patients with a sensible approach to losing weight or preventing obesity in the first place. But there is an inkling of recognition that something needs to change! The September 2010 issue of Academic Medicine, Journal of the Association of Medical Colleges contained an article that revealed the lack of nutritional education in medical schools. In the article, "Nutrition Education in U.S. Medical Schools: Latest Update of a National Survey," the authors wrote:

    "There is little dispute that a patient's dietary habits can influence chronic disease risk and treatment outcomes. Consumer surveys show that physicians are considered credible sources of nutrition information. However, more than half of graduating medical students still rate their nutrition knowledge as "inadequate," and physicians report that they have not received adequate training to counsel their patients on appropriate nutrition. Surveys of medical students and physicians alike have found suboptimal knowledge with respect to nutrition facts."

American College of Lifestyle Medicine Lifestyle Medicine as a solution
Fortunately, there are some doctors who are paying more attention to nutrition in the treatment of disease. These doctors are organized in the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Their mission statement says, "The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) is a new national medical specialty society. It has been formed in answer to the need for quality education and certification of the practice in clinical lifestyle medicine.

"As the first national specialty society for clinicians emphasizing the use of lifestyle interventions in the treatment and management of disease, the ACLM is currently working to develop formal recognition for this important field of medical practice and research."

The ACLM members use these interventions in their practices:

  • emphasis on diet and nutrition
  • exercise
  • stress management
  • smoking cessation
  • other non-drug modalities

They don't rely solely on medication in their focus on the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, obesity, insulin resistance syndrome, osteoporosis, and many types of cancer. Instead, they guide their patients into lifestyle intervention.

USDA No nutrition gurus at the USDA
The public should not turn to the nutrition gurus at the USDA to provide accurate information about what constitutes a healthy diet. Past efforts of the USDA have been ineffective because food industry lobbyists have influenced and prevented the agency from giving information and advice that may be detrimental to the interests of certain foods and food companies. An agency other than the USDA should take on the role of nutrition education. That's another task the AMA might consider.

Obviously, physicians can't effectively instruct patients on what to eat because many of them know little more than their patients about healthy options. A good project for the AMA would be to demand more intensive nutrition instruction in medical schools and advocate required nutrition courses for practicing physicians.

If the AMA is serious about combating obesity, its members should focus on one of the major causes of obesity--what and how much people are eating. So much of our typical American diet is highly processed fast food marketed by Big Food Companies, Fast Food Chains, and Beverage Companies--cheap food responsible for weight gain.

Using the prescription pad effectively
It's time for the doctors in the AMA to haul out their prescription pads and write, "FRUITS, VEGETABLES, LEGUMES, WHOLE GRAINS, NUTS, and SEEDS," instead of scribbling highly advertised pharmaceuticals. Organizations like AMA are reluctant to offer criticism of the Big Food and Beverage Companies and Restaurant Chains and the unhealthful foods they are marketing, BUT THEY SHOULD.

It's time for the AMA and its members to step up to the plate and assume a leadership role in the battle against obesity. Just labeling obesity a disease in not enough. Doctors and their national organizations MUST BE on the front lines armed with nutritional knowledge to help patients cure this newly labeled dreaded "disease." They need to assume a dynamic role in speaking out to challenge the forces that contribute to our nation's obesity health crisis.


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