Monday, 24 August 2015

What 2000 Calories Looks Like (1)

So in the Guardian recently was an article by Ann Robinson, who is a GP, about how schools needed to teach pupils what 2,000 calories “looks and feels like”. She then gave a description of if, which I will come to. But first, let’s address the fact that you’re impressed because she’s GP with a Guardian byline.

GPs are now pretty much gatekeepers to the NHS and health insurance. If UK pharmacists had the powers of continental pharmacists, most people would never see a GP. I have an NHS GP, whom I see if I suspect I may need referring to hospitals or specialists, and if I have a well-being issue, I go see the GP at my gym. GPs are not the repositories of health and fitness wisdom that the NHS and press likes to make them out to be. GPs know absolutely nothing about exercise, fitness and nutrition. I defy anyone to produce a GP (not resident at a gym or sports club) who can deadlift their own bodyweight, and knows the calorific content of a smoked salmon sandwich from Pret. They mostly see sick children, old people, addicts, people with treatment plans for chronic diseases or conditions, and of course, middle-aged people who have let themselves put on weight and have generally gone to the dogs.

GPs, in short, don’t know anything about healthy and fit people, because they never see any. They don’t know much about people who can take advice and stick with it, because they only see them once. What they know about are people who won’t or can’t, for whatever reason, consistently follow a regime of exercise and clean eating for an extended period of time. They see what you and I would call “the hopeless cases”. And then they give healthy and fit people advice. Because that works.

Now let’s turn to the article. Mrs Robinson’s article was a puff-piece for a piece of “research” by Diabetes UK, which is a charity that needs to scare the beejasus out of everyone as a way of raising funds. Here’s a list of its corporate sponsors from its 2014 Annual ReportAbbott, Boots, Bunzl, Bupa, Eli Lilly, Janssen , Lifescan , Novo Nordisk , Royal Mail, SanofiTakeda, Tesco, Truvia, and Weight Watchers.

Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Takeda especially are heavily dependent on diabetes medications. There’s nothing, of course, wrong with corporate support, and of course it makes sense for companies in an industry to support research charities. What is wrong is to get waylaid by an industry that invented a “disease” out of thin air, then invented drugs that have at best a marginal effect on one symptom, which they then persuade health services all over the world to prescribe. Why do I say that? That’s the next post.

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