I attended a government sponsored class that ran over three days, it was strongly recommended by my doctor, I believe the underlying reason for the recommendation was to demonstrate my willingness to follow my doctor’s advice. It covered a number of subjects including understanding the mechanism of diabetes and how to live with it. The emphasis was on how you should manage this progressive disease with diet, exercise and medication.
Out of a class of 12 people none of the participants had done any further research and more than half of them had attended the same class a year earlier, they were returning because the first time around it did nothing to help them control their diabetes. They were told by their GPs to attend again, since their lack of success must be down to them failing to follow the advice. It couldn’t possibly be down to them being given the wrong information… or could it?
I was looking forward to attending what I hoped would be three full days of the latest research focused advice that would give me the weaponry to put my foot down and control this little monster. I love learning, I am a student at heart and as a teacher I have the greatest respect for my fellow colleagues, I would never intentionally put a teacher under stress but I found myself in a position that could not be helped. I turned out to be her worst nightmare.
I had done my homework, I had been reading everything I could get my hands on, I had lots of questions and I wanted answers. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that she was not as well informed as she should have been, I was ‘that’ student, the one with all the questions who had in a very short space of time absorbed a lot of information. I was curious, determined to find answers, I wanted to understand and I wanted to make informed choices. You can find a lot of information on the web, much of it is conflicting and I needed clarification, unfortunately I was not going to find it in this class.
I politely asked and wanted further clarification on a number of points, she frequently got flustered as she knew she was either wrong or did not have the knowledge to give a satisfactory answer. So, in order for me to allow her to save face I asked my questions during break so as not to bring it up in front of students in case she did not know. It went from bad to worse, she was simply a mouthpiece for the government, a stooge who had not prepared anything beyond what was written in her supplied lesson plan.
Some of the more common questions from the class were about diet, it was clear that she had limited understanding and she was still peddling the myth that carbs should be your main food source because her information about nutrition was based on outdated and inaccurate information. Much of it was simply wrong. I looked around the table at my fellow chubby recidivists, it seemed to prove my point. The fact that most of them had been there before and were still clearly carrying around an unhealthy amount of weight despite going to the prescribed exercise classes, changing their diets and taking their medication made it glaringly obvious that the advice was not working.
Attending this class only made me realize that I was not going to find my answers from the existing conventional medical professionals, I would have to look further afield and seek out other sources of information. It took a decade but I have found it and I am on the road to recovery.
My question is for the medical profession, why does the system persist in following a regime that has been proven over time to simply not work?
An initiative that trialed weight loss in a group of women (50,000) evaluated the low-fat, low-calorie approach to weight loss. Within this trial there was a group that was encouraged through intensive counseling to decrease their daily calorie intake by 342 and increase their exercise level by 10%. The end results over a 7 year period demonstrated a complete failure and not even a single pound was lost.
Howard BV, et al. Low-fat dietary pattern and weight change over 7 years: the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Mondification Trial. JAMA.2006 Jan4;295(1):39-49