Everyone knows that obesity is a steadily increasing health issue in the United States, which also means it is a cash cow just waiting to be milked. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) helped write legislation (HR 2415) that would make Medicare reimburse their members for weight management counseling. That sounds great,doesn’t it? Insurance should be paying for safe, preventative measures like dietary counseling. What could possibly be wrong with that?
Only that the AND receives funding from Coca Cola, Hershey, Mars, Pepsi Co, and other junk food manufacturers. So do you really think that their dieticians will be telling people that refined sugar is unhealthy? Or that diet pop isn’t a great weight management tool? And their law specifies that only AND dieticians can be reimbursed, no other practitioners. So people won’t be as likely to seek the help of a holistic practitioner, or any other opinion they have to pay for out-of-pocket, when insurance will pay for an industry spokesperson. (Incidentally, refined sugar is extremely bad for you, and diet soda does not help you lose weight.)
In a closely related move, the American Medical Association has classified obesity as a disease. Why does it matter at all if they call it a disease or not? Because, as a disease, you can bill for medical treatment. This opens up a market of over 100,000 people who can be prescribed drugs or surgery now. Medical doctors receive less than 25 hours of instruction in diet and nutrition. They receive a great deal of instruction in drug and surgical treatments. It is very unlikely that they will be giving good dietary advice, when they can write a prescription. I am sincerely afraid that this will mean worse, not better, health for many Americans, as the diet drugs on the market (Qsymia and Belviq) are largely ineffective and have dreadful side effects.
Speaking of weight control, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has downgraded the artificial sweetener Splenda (sucralose) from “safe” to “caution”, following a study in which it caused leukemia in mice. There is also evidence that Splenda reduces beneficial gut bacteria by 50%, damages kidneys, and increases the risk of miscarriage. Splenda has been on the market for 15 years, and the only long term studies on it were conducted by the company that manufactures it. Oddly enough, when the manufacturers evaluate their own products, they nearly always find them safe and effective.
America will not become healthy as long as sickness is so incredibly profitable. Obesity, like cancer, is best prevented, rather than cured. And the prevention is to eliminate the cause. In the case of obesity, prevention would look like banning high fructose corn syrup, banning fast food places from giving away toys and advertising to children, supporting organic, local food production and distribution, etc. For cancer, prevention would look like taking known carcinogenic chemicals off the market, and testing the literally hundreds of thousands of chemicals in use which have not been tested for safety. These solutions are never recommended by those who profit from treating cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimers. Which is too bad for all of us.