Jenni Murray is wide of the mark!

jenni murrayI have just finished reading Jenni Murray’s article today in the Daily Mail. When she wrote it, I assume she aimed to evoke a bit of old fashioned Christmas nostalgia in her readers. For me she has missed the mark – by a few million miles!!

Despite being morbidly obese. Despite having had cancer. Despite having had hip surgery. Despite that she is at risk of Type 2 diabetes, she gleefully talks about her plans for a last unrestrained feast before she has a gastric band fitted in the new year. Jenni Murray has made no secret of the fact that she will be having weight loss surgery. She has been open and straightforward about that in her usual manner. According to other reports, she has been delighted by her listeners’ support and responses to her story – she says she feels she has no other choice for the sake of her health.

So it’s with a great sense of disappointment that I read her article today: she certainly doesn’t paint a picture of a woman with no choice, just of one who has previously exercised poor choice and no restraint. She reminisces about feeling bloated after both a cooked breakfast and a traditional lunch, but still proudly finding space for a whole selection box, a ham salad tea, stilton, cake and mince pies. She talks about looking forward to her final “blow-out” and how she plans to enjoy every mouthful of champagne, chocolates, smoked salmon, as well as all the stuff she usually consumes.

Hear when I say, I am not against gastric bands per se, I understand they save lives in extreme cases. But I am concerned that bariatric surgery is increasingly being represented as a lifestyle choice by people who really don’t want to take personal responsibility for what they put in their mouths. And I don’t appreciate or condone the attitude of people who brazenly crow about the amount they will continue to eat knowing that a gastric band (usually not at their own expense of course!) will eventually get them off the hook of personal responsibility!

A few years ago a man presented in my clinic asking for what he thought would be a quick fix treatment for weight loss. He explained that he had been a big eater all his life and he lived on pizza, pies, fish and chips. Upon reaching what he believed was the national threshold for bariatric surgery he was disappointed to find the local NHS guidelines had been set at some 5 stones higher. So on the advice of a ‘kindly’ nurse he endeavoured, and succeeded, to put on another 5 stones! He had been rewarded with his desired gastric band – at tax-payers’ expense of course. Subsequently his weight had fallen to, and plateaued at, 17 stones – just over a stone less than his original starting point. He found he could still consume all the pizzas, pies and fish and chips as before – it was just that he vomited what his new smaller stomach couldn’t take. I declined to provide the treatment he had requested – it wasn’t really the quick fix he thought it might be anyway – and offered him some nutritional advice. He explained to me that he couldn’t “be arsed [his actual word!] with vegetables or healthy food“. I explained to him that I wouldn’t help him.

You could say it’s none of my business if someone wants to eat themselves to the point of self-destruction and then opt for debilitating surgery – bariatric surgery comes with various consequences from an inability to absorb nutrients, to death! You could say that Jenni Murray’s choices are also none of my business, except that she has made it my business by going public on both her promotion of gluttony in a few days’ time, and her election for surgery.

She is a woman to whom so many people have looked up as an intelligent broadcaster and journalist over many years, and yet she has just told the world that greed is OK, that failure to take personal responsibility is OK, and that society will pick up the pieces and provide a solution when people get themselves into a self-induced mess.

None of that’s OK, Jenni!

The people I usually work with are those who have tried to eat healthily and to take care of themselves. These people have largely fallen victim to the healthy eating myths and supposedly healthy food options made available by a food industry unremittingly motivated by profit over the health of their customers. Low-fat, high sugar addicts thanks to the food and diet industries, and even the medical profession which has advised such products to their patients! These are the people who have lost their way not through gluttony, and yet live with the stigma of blame for their weight and illnesses including Type 2 diabetes! These are people who are quite prepared to take responsibility – after all they have taken it upon themselves to privately fund my advice! These are the people for whom I might see a valid place for bariatric surgery – as a last resort. Jenni Murray’s article has done these people a great disservice!

Thankfully this week we also are able to draw on the story of the lady who recently lost 9 stones by simply controlling her own diet. This is the lady I truly hope will be the role model for anyone planning to lose weight in the new year. The lady who took responsibility for her weight, the lady who took responsibility for her own eating habits, the lady who set a great example to everyone who might need to lose a few pounds of their own. It’s her Christmas menu I would like to hear about, and be inspired by, please Daily Mail!

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