Every so often you suddenly see things, which taken together are another part of the jigsaw.
So it was that within the space of 24 hours I read about a grill in Arizona called the Heart Attack Grill, which claims to serve the worlds unhealthiest food and about calls for more gastric banding surgery to treat obesity.
The Heart Attack Grill “prides itself” on offering unhealthy high calorie foods with names like flat liner fries and the quadruple bypass burger. The place is decked out like a hospital and the waitresses wear skimpy nurses uniforms. There is even a wheelchair to wheel you back out to the car.
Interestingly the sign on the door says “Caution this establishment is bad for your health”. You can not be more blatant than that. Anyone who goes in knows what is on offer. Over 90% of diners are tourists. This shows that people do not eat there regularly.
With no advertising the grill has generated huge publicity on the backs of the, predictable, calls for it to be closed down. Apparently the owner has plans for more. Nurses, doctors and other members of the health lobby have picketed the grill, which has been accused of profiting from obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
The other item was the call by Associate Professor John Dixon, the head of obesity research unit at Melbourne’s Monash University for bariatric surgery to be standard treatment for people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 40 and for those with a BMI over 35 with diabetes.
He claimed that General Practitioners (primary care physicians) should refer more people for surgery and not pursue lifestyle measures or be deterred by the 12% re operation rate. He failed to mention the longer term complications such as fractures and kidney stones.
He did declare that he had consulted for several companies with interests in bariatric surgery.
So who is actually profiting from obesity, diabetes and the like? A grill selling clearly labeled foods to people who would see a visit to such a place as a one off fun night out or the people pushing surgery and drugs which they are paid to do or prescribe, in preference to obvious lifestyle measures which they are not earn money from?
Pharmaceutical companies also profit handsomely from diabetes. The drug Avandia has generated billions in sales yet it now has been shown that those taking the drug for diabetes have higher rates of heart attacks then those not on the drug.
So not only does the company and other parts of the medical establishment profit from the treatment of diabetes it may well further profit from the treatment of problems caused by the initial treatment.
This adds to the already expensive “disease care” costs facing western societies.
So in actual fact it is the medical industrial complex which profits from obesity, diabetes and other lifestyle related conditions, rather than an over the top grill. This is never more clearly demonstrated than in the call of the Monash Professor, who is paid to consult for companies with “interests in surgery” and pushes expensive surgery in preference to inexpensive dietary change and exercise.
Things are not always as they seem.