Monday, June 06, 2011

Ontario cracks down on medical weight loss programs

Here in Canada we enjoy a single-payer health care system. What that means of course is that to protect our system, our government needs to regulate what doctors are and aren't paid for. Consequently, if there were a procedure that physicians were billing for that didn't have an evidence base to back it up, the Ministry of Health is obligated to put a stop to that practice.

Well I'm happy to report that as of June 1st, 2011, Ontario's Ministry of Health has ensured that our tax dollars will no longer be used to pay for vitamin injections, urinalyses or blood tests used in the context of rapid, medically supervised weight loss programs.

According to the Ministry,

"there is no evidence that vitamin injections facilitate weight loss and there is no evidence that rapid weight loss programs are effective in the long term"
What remains to be seen is whether or not the Ministry will determine that billing for patients visits as part of a rapid weight loss program will be denied as well. There's also the possibility that they will go after those clinics' physicians' past procedural billings as the onus would have been on the physician to know that the procedures they had been regularly billing for weren't in fact based in evidence.

I wonder too whether or not the Ministry's very unequivocal statement regarding the utility of vitamin injections in weight loss might lend itself to the development of class action lawsuits against those clinics or physicians who have provided those "treatments" in the past.

While the Ministry's decisions certainly aren't representative of a formal regulation or oversight of the weight loss industry, they're definitely a positive step in the right direction.

Bookmark and Share


  1. Anonymous9:27 am

    This OHIP rip off, and lack of legislation is at least 10 years too late. It’s pretty clear which diet centres this is going to target, and it’s about flippin’ time!!!!!!!!!! It’s criminal what false claims, false hopes, false advertizing and health damage (both physical and emotional) these types of “diets” and “doctor diets” have done to people. Let’s hope that the people who’ve been victimized and conned by these “diets” sue them into oblivion! It’s really too bad that the govt saw fit to delist a legitimate weight loss surgery (the duodenal switch) and make people wait over 2 years before people get what surgeries are still listed – but then let this bogus “vitamin shot” junk science continue unregulated and unsubstantiated for years. Yoni... keep on this, and let’s put an end to those types of diet centres.

  2. Anonymous10:49 am

    The government needs to go one step further and shut these places down. People will still be roped into these programmes out of desperation. They promise 20+lbs losses per month - that's very enticing and having an extra cost for bloodwork/urinalysis isn't going to deter someone who's desperate to lose weight.

  3. Sarah3:58 pm

    Goodbye to Dr. Berstein's ridiculous vitamin B12 injections!

  4. Anonymous5:17 pm

    I wondering if this new ban includes clinics (like the one at the Civic hospital in Ottawa) that push products like optifast or medifast? If rapid weight loss programs don't work, I hope that they will be targeting all rapid weight loss programs fairly. Maybe we can get rid of optifast and all doctor approved liquid diets in the Ontario Health system and replace it with healthy eating, and lifestyle change, followed by surgeries that really work long term like the duodenal switch, and allow patient to live normal lifestyles.

    1. Anonymous8:22 pm

      OHIP doesn't pay for the Optifast. As I understand you are required to take it prior to surgery and it costs almost $300 out of the patient's pocket. Mind you if you have a perscription you should be able to claim it on your income tax (double check first though). I realize it doesn't help with the up front cost. Also if you have to travel more than a certain number of km's for medical treatment/app'ts that aren't available locally check that you can claim mileage and meals. At the end of the year it could be worth it.

  5. Anonymous10:03 am

    I'm thinking it's part of the plan to end all OHIP funding for any kind of weight loss program. DS gone! doctor diets gone! RNY will it be next??

  6. Anonymous3:13 pm

    This blog is over 2 years old, is there anything recent?