This week White Coat, Black Art teamed up with CBC radio, television and on-line to heal launch Live Right Now to help inform Canadians on how they can live healthier lives. As part of our coverage, we rebroadcast our show from last season about the obesity crisis in Canada and a radical new approach -- one that includes bariatric surgical procedures such as Lap-Band and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery -- to battling what experts increasingly refer to as a chronic disease. And then, we heard from you.
Ken Westlake writes: "There certainly was more than enough mention of surgical solutions, there was at least one professional who appeared to understand that not everyone was capable of exercising a lot and had the resources to access a healthy diet. What I didn't hear discussed at all was that in our current society, fewer and fewer people have the ability to access such a lifestyle. When you are paying sixty or seventy percent of your income or more for shelter, not even a licensed dietician has many suggestions about how to eat, especially if you do not have a car to get around the area as needed to find all of the great deals offered by the supermarkets in the area. A couple living on seventy dollars or so a week is really restricted in their options. My wife and I are both overweight. We have both been told that we need to exercise more. I've been told that a year's membership at the local Pool only costs three hundred dollars a year (!?!). Perhaps you might follow this article up some time with some positive suggestions for the ever-increasing part of our society who do not have 6 or 7 figure incomes. Particularly since one point that was made in this program was that no matter how people felt, they certainly would only have a small chance of receiving any of the medical solutions that were put forward in this program.
Rebecca McTaggart of Toronto sent us this: "I listened with interest to your recent broadcast on obesity, weight loss and the medical community's approach to addressing this condition. I am obese and have battled weight loss, managing my eating and the associated health and social challenges throughout most of my adult life. Although I agree that bariatric surgery is an option, I was surprised that you did not discuss other approaches or causes of the condition. Perhaps you have read and dismissed the recently published book entitled "The End of Overeating" by Dr. David Kessler. I read this book on the recommendation of Dr. David Macklin. I am currently a patient of Dr. Macklin in my pursuit of a healthier lifestyle and a more sustainable weight. You may wish to consider further pursuit of the research of Dr. Kessler and the health care approaches of physicians like Dr. Macklin as alternatives to surgery."
Leroy Harder of Kamloops, B.C. writes: "I agree that is foolish to blame people for something half his or her cohorts have trouble with. However, I don't think treating obesity as a disease will prove helpful because it will treat symptoms rather than get to the root of the problem. While the symptoms of obesity are shown in individuals, the dysfunction is at a culture level. Like our economy, we have organized society against the best interests of people. Individuals shouldn't have to struggle to make good choices. We know that only a few strong people will in circumstances like that. Rather culture needs to be set up where people fall into good choices as a matter of fact. Most jobs shouldn't be sedentary, and two incomes shouldn't be required to support a family, taking time away from proper meal preparation. Junk food shouldn't be so easy to buy. Perhaps doctors need to broader perspective and begin exerting influence where policy influences health."
Shirley Walker of Mission B.C. writes: "I was a student nurse in the early fifties in a nursing school that had at least three hundred and fifty student nurses in residence at any one time. I have asked classmates a number of times if they can remember any obese student nurses in the residence. A handful were a little overweight, and our class has been very healthy and almost half the class still meet for special anniversaries at the age of 78 and older. My opinion is that obesity is a cultural disease in a society of excess and too much inappropriate food. Part of the problem is lax government regulation- regulations that permit very unhealthy amounts of food additives that contribute to obesity and pathological conditions."
And finally, HD of Ottawa sent us this: "I met a student when she was 17 and weighed over 200 lbs. At various times in the years that followed, she weighed up to 516 lbs. She lost more weight than Oprah and did the yo-yo dieting thing over and over and over again until she died last November at 43. She was finally diagnosed at 40 with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She had been sexually abused as a child. Most of those she sought help from during the years I knew her, blamed her and increased her shame. She had more character and courage than any person I have ever known."
And finally, Judy Brown of Medicine Hat, Alberta writes: "Heard your show on CBC about the obesity clinic in Edmonton that is looking at being fat as a disease. Thanks for this. I have been fat since childhood. My legs are deformed enough that exercise has always been difficult and as I age (in my fifties now) becomes less and less. I know well the slurs, fat jokes, pointed criticism and jabs from people in general and the medical profession. I have always been sympathetic towards fat people who have to live in a "Barbie ane Ken" society of physical perfection. It is very, very refreshing to know that someone is taking a new and different approach. I enjoy your show."
And we enjoy hearing from you. Thank your sharing your thoughts with us.