Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Put your Health Check where your Mouth is!

I don't know if the Heart and Stroke Foundation folks read my blog, but if they do, this post won't be news to them.

Over one year ago now, I first met with some of the great folks over at the HSF to discuss their obesity platform.

The HSF has done a bang-up job of getting involved in educating the public about the risks of obesity, and likely has steered some to seek help with weight loss.

The good news stops there.

Problem is that without any guidance on where to go for help with weight loss, and with so many unethical, non-evidence based, commission paying, product pushing, weight loss scams and snake-oil salesman, likely the HSF is helping to market consumer fraud.

Even worse, because most patients tend to blame themselves for their failures at weight maintenance (even if the blame lies with the program), the HSF may actually make it less likely for people to effectively treat their weight as they may see their most recent failed attempt as their last.

It's been a year since I presented my arguments to the HSF. At the time they seemed very genuinely interested in discussing the potential use of the pre-existing Health Check program (currently being used to identify "healthy" foods in groceries and restaurants) to weight loss programs - that way consumers could look to see if the weight loss program they were considering was ethically and scientifically sound.

They invited me to come and speak at one of their policy planning meetings, but then a month prior told me that I got bumped to the next meeting, I then got bumped again and I haven't hear back from them.

Next I took this idea to the Canadian Obesity Network and again received a great deal of interest and in fact they ran a straw poll where over 75% of respondents thought it was a good idea for them to provide weight loss program ratings.

Unfortunately nothing has happened since then.

I find it very confusing that public health agencies and nutritional advocates make such strong (and often scary) statements about the risks of obesity and then do nothing to help guide patients to responsible weight loss programs.

Someone has to step up.