A pharmacist's perspective on health and metabolic disease
Many years ago I was certified to supply Xenical (orlistat) without a prescription. Xenical is a weight loss drug that prevents about a third of the consumed fat from being absorbed into the body. This meant that if you ate more than about 15g fat in any meal when you had also taken this medication, then you ended up with oily bowel motions.
So being able to supply Xenical was conditional on also providing dietary advice and support so people could adhere to the new regimen. Being generous, I think I did about 4 hours training all up – about 2 hours in an evening course, some time with the company rep in our store and probably some additional reading. I know I did a lot more additional reading, especially when my patients asked questions to which I didn’t know the answer.
I didn’t see a lot of success and I think it was the time spent working with these patients that both pushed me in the direction of wanting to help people with weight management (for metabolic disease management) but also into thinking that (low-fat) diets don’t work.
So it was with absolute dismay that I read that Gary Fettke, an Australian orthopaedic surgeon has been silenced by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Authority (AHPRA). Gary is no longer able to discuss with his patients with diabetes or arthritis about nutrition to help reduce pain, inflammation, amputations or suffering. Often patients don’t want to have the operation to replace joints or amputate toes or limbs, but the problems associated with having the operations will often be better than “living in hell” as one patient described their life to me*.
According to Marika Sboros, Gary has been told “There is nothing associated with your medical training or education that makes you an expert or authority in the field of nutrition, diabetes or cancer. Even if, in the future, your views on the benefits of the LCHF lifestyle become the accepted best medical practice this does not change the fundamental fact that you are not suitably trained or educated as a medical practitioner to be providing advice or recommendations on this topic.”
So my question is….what constitutes adequate training and education? I think I had about four hours training before giving (what seemed to me) fairly detailed advice about portion sizes, foods to eat or to avoid.
I can work in a pharmacy that sells all sorts of products and programs for weight loss and will often be asked my opinion on which program or dietary regimen that they have read on the internet/magazine, heard on the radio/TV from a friend is better and what is going to work better for them.
Does this make me qualified to give this advice?
It is sobering reading to have a medical practitioner silenced on a health topic. Where will patients now get their information on which to make decisions when any person without any qualifications can set themselves up as a nutritional advisor.
Hopefully not Dr Google.
*For the record, I don’t work with Gary or his patients, but I have spent many years working with patients waiting for joint replacements and those with diabetes.