COMMENTARY

Retracted -- All Is Lost and I Have No Hope: The Obesity Epidemic

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February 15, 2019

Editor's Note (February 22, 2019): Medscape values a diverse range of opinions on issues relevant to the medical community.

While we welcome thought-provoking and even controversial points of view in our commentaries and in comments from our readers, we do not endorse weight bias, nor bias towards any group.

After careful review, the editors at Medscape have decided to retract this commentary. We understand how this commentary could promote stigma and marginalization.

As a retracted commentary, it will remain in our electronic archive, consistent with best editorial practices, but with its retracted status clearly noted. A letter to the editor responding to this commentary will also remain online.

Hello and welcome. I'm Dr George Lundberg and this is At Large at Medscape.

On a recent road trip through rural states, we slept at midrange, chain hotels that offer free, do-it-yourself breakfasts.

We saw so many really fat people shoveling down large quantities of free breakfast food, including waffles and/or pancakes with butter and corn syrup, bacon, pork sausages, scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, refined white-flour toast with butter, refined white-flour bagels with thick cream cheese, sugar-coated muffins, coffee with sugar and cream, oatmeal with brown sugar, and sugar-coated dry cereals. Some fruit (apples, oranges, and bananas) was offered but was mostly ignored. There was only skim milk or 2% fat milk, as a leftover from the 1980s travesty that whole milk is bad for your arteries.

To their credit, these hotel chains do provide small exercise rooms, but on this trip I never saw one person exercising.

In America, fat people look around and see more fat people. That's the new norm. I went shopping for a T-shirt on Amazon, clicked the "size" button, and the choices were small, medium, large, extra large, XX large, and XXX large. Oh my god, really?

We stopped for gasoline, used the restroom in a roadside convenience store, and looked for healthy snacks. You have to be kidding! Everything we saw was processed food. There were packages full of sugar, refined carbs, many additives, and salt, and they were supersized. The rest stops were drowning in all of that antinutritious garbage.

All of that stuff, including ubiquitous fast foods, burgeoned after the late 1970s and early 1980s as the obesity epidemic took shape. Then I read the most recent CDC reports on body mass index and obesity.

[The obesity epidemic] is still getting worse, even after so many years of medical journals, physicians and their associations, diet books, fitness trainers and centers, public media, government agencies, public health organizations, insurance companies, weight loss companies, public school education, bariatric surgeons, and TV role models trying to prevent or combat obesity.

It is worth trying and helps some people, but on the whole, gluttony, sloth, sugar, carbs, and diabetes are still winning the masses. We need to hit the reset button on the entire field of clinical nutrition, as John Ioannidis, MD, DSc, of Stanford School of Medicine suggested recently.[1]

I am tempted to say that Harvard should recuse itself after having been such a large part of the sugar and fat problem from the beginning. But then again, some of the best, current information comes out of David Ludwig's work at Harvard.[2]

The German, Julius Bauer, had a lot of this obesity thing pretty well figured out before the second World War. Unfortunately, a lot of his work was not followed up after the war. Here is his writing in 1941.[3] Ludwig now says:

  • Restrict total carbs;

  • Cut out refined grains and added sugar;

  • Increase intake of nonstarchy vegetables, legumes, and nontropical whole fruits;

  • Use whole-grain products;

  • Consume nuts, avocados, and olive oil;

  • Include moderate amounts of protein and fats.

I don't know. The other way is just too easy. I guess I'll saunter over to join the crowd and pig out. Life is short. Sugar really is sweet. Yum! I love those Snickers bars, pecan or apple pie à la mode with whipped cream, root beer floats, and banana splits. What the health?

That's my opinion. I'm Dr George Lundberg and this is At Large at Medscape.

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