Duped, Duped, Duped and Duped Again

In Weight-Loss Maintenance on May 10, 2011 at 9:37 am

Well, apparently, Dr. Sharma thinks it’s not only okay, but just bang-up fun to abuse us – state something inflammatory, let us waste our time and emotional resources responding, then just withdraw it the next day.  It was tongue in cheek, after all.  Can’t ya’ take a joke?  He’s in favor of diversity of opinion, doncha know?  Yeah?  That’s what he’s saying today, after saying yesterday:

I have long given up even arguing about this issue with ‘(obesity) deniers’ because I never sense that I am dealing with people, who are even open to discussion. No amount of data or arguing will change strongly held beliefs and convictions, so it is pretty much a waste of time trying to expect rational discourse.

Fortunately, I can generally chose to ignore this issue, because I find it a far better use of my time to help those, who actually want and value my advice. Those, who believe my advice is wrong or misguided, are more than welcome to ignore it.

Maybe I would be wise to take his advice and just ignore his blog.

Meanwhile, Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer reviews this year’s Consumer Reports’ ratings for popular diet plans. Click through only if you are holding onto sanity points. If you do click through, allow yourself the luxury of waiting till the end, when George Stephanopoulos and Josh Elliott come on set to try the diet foods.  Their reactions are pretty spot on.  Yuck.

For what it’s worth (and saving you the necessity of clicking through), Jenny Craig won this year, Slim Fast came in second, and Weight Watchers third.  Jenny Craig had “the best results” because people were more likely to stay on it “for the long haul.”  Oh, yeah?  How long did they really go?  I’m betting less than a year, but I’m not going to affirm this annual ritual (and encourage perpetuating it) by buying an actual Consumer Reports magazine to find out.   Curiously, the ABC news report points out celebrity endorsers, including Kirstie Alley, with no sense of irony or mention of her weight regain.  Didn’t she pretty much prove that even people with resources have trouble staying on Jenny Craig for “the long haul,” if that’s defined fairly.

For what it is worth, Consumer Reports does this diet rating thing year after year, and the national news media always pick up the story.  Here’s what the Today Show said about it in 2007, when the winners were:  Eat, Drink and Weigh Less in first; YOU:  On a Diet, second; and the Abs Diet in third. 

This is a lot like the Academy Awards.  We see many of the same players year after year, simply switching positions.  Best Actress one year is nominated for best supporting actress another.  In 2005, the winner was this year’s third-place contender, Weight Watchers, followed by Slim Fast (also in second this year).  Interesting that Nancy Metcalf’s quote about Weight Watchers in 2005, was nearly identical to her quote to ABC News this morning about Jenny Craig.  It’s all about the “long-term adherence.”   Sure.

When are we going to learn?  When am I going to learn.  Shame on you, Arya Sharma.  Fool me once . . . then consider apologizing.

  1. I read that post of his yesterday and was not a happy camper. The part that really got my goat was where he talked about those who debunk all the studies about obesity and causality of disease, something about if there’s so much correlation there has to be causation and we’re just as bad as the smokers who talk about people who have smoked for years, don’t get lung cancer, and die at the age of 104 of falling out of bed. That everyone knows now that smoking causes lung cancer and to think otherwise is ridiculous (not in so many words but that was the general idea). And making the connection that because we think HAES is the way to go, instead of ELMM or WLS or WLD, we’re just as irresponsible as the smokers about our health. Well, if that’s the way he truly feels, and he wants to go all paternalistic and holier-than-thou on my ass, he can just kiss my ass, and he’d better bring his lunch because it’s an all-day job.
    I thought he was a reasonable doctor, who actually might get it about weight and weight loss, but I think he’s just as brainwashed as the rest of them. I’ve been reading his blog every day, and I haven’t seen much to encourage me, to tell you the truth. Smoke and mirrors is all I’m seeing.

  2. For awhile there, he had us believing he was thinking man. Well, perhaps not all of us, but I’ll admit to sometimes falling for his act. Actually, he was in the back room, mixing up a batch of (diet?) Kool-Aid. Now that he’s drunk it all up, we can only dust ourselves off, forgive ourselves for hoping beyond hope that there was finally a (fall on your knees!) medical expert who maybe “understood” and get on with life.

    So long, Arya. It’s been not so good to know ya.

  3. I admit I am weak. I went back to Dr. Sharma’s blog and tried to reach him again.

    I am willing to undergo an intervention.

  4. he can just kiss my ass, and he’d better bring his lunch because it’s an all-day job.

    I think you just won the internet, Vesta.

  5. Dr. Sharma is

    • A Professor of Medicine & Chair in Obesity Research and Management at the University of Alberta,
    • Medical Director of Alberta Health Services Edmonton Region’s interdisciplinary Weight Wise Program.
    • Scientific Director of the Canadian Obesity Network (funded through the federal National Centres of Excellence program).

    It’s not clear whether his blog is run through the university, the Alberta Health Service, or the Canadian Obesity Network. However, as I said before, it’s doubtful that he personally writes a post for it every day. I suspect that his home base is at the university and that he’s got grad students writing his posts. I’d imagine that most of the people who read the blog regularly (other than us) are his colleagues and patients. It’s not a big blog. It gets less than 1/3 the daily page views that BFB does, for example – and BFB ain’t what it used to be.

    So, the main thing that we’re gaining by commenting there is a voice that can be heard by the Canadian anti-obesity establishment. They didn’t invite HAES people to their conference (although they did invite Big Food – imagine that!) and they are probably reading what we post on that blog. Whether we can have any effect on them, I don’t know. These are people who have a huge professional stake in the weight-based paradigm. They are arrogant and they’re used to being catered to. I think that there might be value in some of us continuing to follow and comment on that blog (actually, Debra, perhaps you most of all) but I’m starting to feel like a troll over there and I’m probably doing more harm than good.

  6. “No amount of data or arguing will change strongly held beliefs and convictions”

    He should know.

  7. Housekeeping: DeeLeigh’s coupon to Vesta refers to her post (which somehow fell lower in the stack) wherein she proclaimed that Vesta had won the internet. I think we can all agree on that.

    And I think you’re absolutely right, DeeLeigh, about who writes Dr. Sharma’s posts. I wonder if he even had a chance to read yesterday’s. In addition to being offensive, it’s rife with typos. Even in the short snippet I quoted he wrote “chose” when he meant “choose,” and there’s an extra comma inserted between those and who. Seems like the careless writing of someone quite young and full of him-/herself. (Isn’t he or she proud for making so many of us jump, for wasting our time!) Nevertheless, Dr. Sharma’s name is on the blog, and he needs to tend it.

    NewMe, I don’t see your newest comment over there on today’s post. Is it in an earlier post or did it succumb to moderation?

    • Actually, as I read it, just the snippet, there are several excess commas. Not the hallmark of someone Dr. Sharma’s generation.

  8. I think my comment is in moderation. Hopefully it will emerge soon…

  9. When Dr. S’s post today made the unbelieveable claim that yesterday’s was written “tongue in cheek”, his complete lack of ethical consideration and empathy for the people who took the time to reply yesterday left an indelible imprint on my opinion of him.

    Why can he not simply say, “I’m sorry. I blew it. That was a potentially harmful and misleading post. I take responsibility for my mistake. I will try to give you helpful information, in the future, information that does NOT fan the fires of fat discrimination and does NOT incite cruelty towards people who are fat.” You know. Or something like that. Something SINCERE.

    Yesterday’s post, combined with his bullshit today, can be translated thusly, “You HAES people should shut the eff up and go away and leave me alone to write whatever I want without having to strain my brain by thinking too much about your perspective. I am a doctor! A man dedicated to HELPING, for gawd’s sake. Show me the proper respect my status deserves…”

    Ugh. What else can I conclude when he pretends, now, that yesterday’s post was all in jest. Really? Which parts? Even if what he says now is true, and it was “tongue in cheek”, he should still address the fact that his words were taken VERY seriously by many people who care deeply about these issues.

    I’ve never seen him write with a tone that says: HAHA, YUCK, WE ALL KNOW THIS IS A BAD JOKE, RIGHT? Yet somehow regular readers must discern that abrupt change in style and tone?

    Someone should ask him directly if he has any financial interests whatsoever in bariatric surgery (any way to profit from increased numbers of bariatric surgery). If so, I consider that a conflict of interest, or potential conflict of interest, that should be clearly stated up front on his blog.

    I really hate doublespeak from so-called professionals and/or authorities.

  10. “I have long given up even arguing about this issue with ‘__________’ because I never sense that I am dealing with people, who are even open to discussion. No amount of data or arguing will change strongly held beliefs and convictions, so it is pretty much a waste of time trying to expect rational discourse.”

    Fill in the blank.

    Handy translation guide:
    open to discussion – agrees with me
    rational discourse – agrees with me

    From “Jargon Made Simple”, a book title I invented

    “he can just kiss my ass, and he’d better bring his lunch because it’s an all-day job.”

    GOOD ONE, VESTA!!! If he gets done early, I humbly offer to contribute mine for, ahem, backup.

  11. Debra, you have gathered around you a powerful group:
    The Harpies of Fatmageddon!

  12. Well, I’ve been in email conversation with Dr. Sharma. A rather lengthy exchange, really. I’ll post on it later this week. He’s given me permission to quote him.

  13. OMG, Debra. I’m waiting with bated breath!

  14. I can hardly wait to see that too, it should be interesting, to say the least 🙂

  15. I haven’t been following the Sharma-drama, but I did read an interesting article on the Consumer Reports diet review over at the other day. Turns out the Jenny Craig diet had the best results because they all but paid the study participants: they all received free food (worth ~$100/week) for the duration of the study (2 years), plus all fees waived.

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