Give the Obese a Break

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HarmAmerican Council on Science and Health advisor Dr. David Seres, who is the director of medical nutrition and a clinical ethicist at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, has a message for the judgmental: Stop Telling the Obese to Lose Weight.

Dr. Seres, who is especially critical of the TV reality show "The Biggest Loser," cites a study in the latest issue of the journal Obesity that reinforces what is already known — rapid weight loss is not only ineffective, but actually counterproductive for managing obesity.

He explains: "The contestants were certainly doomed to failure – the weight-loss program was completely unsustainable once they went back to their real lives – and stories of the contestants regaining as much or more weight than they had lost have been in the media for years. But worse than simply failing, this study showed that these people have actually been harmed."

As we've written many times before, this is just one more example of "TV medicine," which has taken the U.S. by storm thanks to celebrities(!) such as Oprah, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, and the like. When I say "TV medicine," the emphasis is on TV.

The potential for harm is obvious. When people take advice as gospel from TV personalities who either don't know what they are talking about, or have an agenda, it is inevitable that some will pick up false and sometimes dangerous information.

The result? Let's call it "intentionally alternative medicine." And it can hurt people.