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S(lap) H(b)ands

by Dr. Deah on Oct.02, 2011, under Events, Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

Those of you that read Dr. Deah’s Tasty Morsels know that I have an enormous amount of rage about the Lap Band(r).  My reasons are both personal and professional.  A close relative of mine had the lap band procedure and it was, by all statistical measurements, unsuccessful. The fall out from the procedure was toxic both physically and emotionally for her and those around her.  In my post, WWJD, I discuss the acne-like proliferation of the 1800GETTHIN billboards and how misleading they are.  The radio and billboard ads give the impression that a person can zip in and zip out of lap band surgery…(what’s next…drive thru lap bands?) and a person’s life with be miraculously transformed from fat, lonely, enslaved, and miserable to skinny, happy, and free.

If this pseudo approach to health and well being offends you at all, you may be interested in two opportunities to voice your dissent that were passed on to me by Marilyn Wann, author of FATSO?

The first is a petition created by Katie Koumatos California Gov. Jerry Brown has until Oct. 9 to sign legislation that includes stricter accreditation requirements for the sort of clinics that do lap band surgery.
While I am eager for total recall of these devices, until then, it seems useful and lifesaving to make it more difficult for clinics that fail one accrediting agency’s standards to skip to another rather than improve.

The second is to send a letter to the billboard company that carries the ad.  Here is the letter that Marilyn sent to:  [email protected]

Hello, Ms. McGuire:
I am writing to ask that you reconsider the advisability of offering advertising space to 1-800-GET-THIN(TM).
The Los Angeles Times reports deaths and serious complications that people have suffered after these surgeries.
Several lawsuits are now in process, alleging false advertising claims.
For example:
- http://www.1800getthinclassaction.com/lawsuit-update
- http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-get-thin-lawsuit-20110907,0,4090876.story
On Dec. 7, 2024, Los Angeles Public Health Department Director Jonathon Fielding, MD, asked the FDA to investigate the 1-800-GET-THIN(TM) advertising…
“The LAP-BAND(R) weight loss procedure is marketed directly to consumers in Los Angeles County through billboards, bus placards, and direct mail with slogans such as ‘Diets fail! The LAP-BAND(R) works!’ These ads fail to provide the relevant warnings, precautions, side effects, and contraindications related to the procedure…Given the harms of medical complications and unrealistic expectations resulting from the misleading promotion of this product, I strongly recommend that FDA to take the necessary steps to ensure that 1-800-GET-THIN(TM)
Weight Loss Centers’ LAP-BAND(R) promotion does not constitute misbranding of a restricted device.”
- http://zev.lacounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/lapband-letter.pdf

The same concerns would apply to this advertising campaign in San Francisco County and in the Bay Area.
This month, BNET contributor and former Adweek managing editor Jim Edwards posted an opinion piece called, “Lap-Band Deaths Pile Up As Sales Decline,” in which he called Allergan’s lap band device “a product discontinuation waiting to happen.”
- http://www.bnet.com/blog/drug-business/lap-band-deaths-pile-up-as-sales-decline/9600?tag=fd-river14#ixzz1XR44dAWU
Medical research questions the safety and efficacy of lap band surgery.
A European study published in July, 2011, found that 50% of people who get lap band must later have it removed.
- http://archsurg.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/extract/146/7/807
One of the few longterm follow-up studies on lap band outcomes, published in 2006, found that 33% of people had serious complications and 22% had problems requiring further surgery. Researchers wrote that lap band “should no longer be considered as the procedure of choice for obesity.”
- http://www.springerlink.com/content/w563743386t13181/
I understand that MTA advertising policy requires no advertisement be “false, misleading or deceptive.”
I hope you will reconsider whether 1-800-GET-THIN(TM) advertising meets your requirements.
Since 2000, San Francisco has included height and weight in the list of characteristics protected from discrimination here. It would be tragic if people in San Francisco were swayed by false, misleading, or deceptive advertising to undertake medical treatments that risk serious complications and even death, in the hope of escaping weight discrimination.
Thank you,
Marilyn Wann

No matter what you may think about the detrimental health effects of the widely publicized “obesity crisis” I hope we can find some common ground and agree that the quick dubious fix of the Lap Band is not the way to address eating disorders or what may be viewed as an unhealthy weight.

Take some time and Slap the Hand of the people promoting the Lap Band. 

Thank you for considering my request!

2 comments for this entry:
  1. Ed D.

    Dr. D,
    I am 100% with you! But please, let’s not stop there. What about billboards educating the public about the inclusion of High Fructose Corn Syrup into nearly every processed food? The “obesity epidemic” can be traced back to the institution of corn subsidies in the 70′s by Earl Butz (of the racist Earl Butzes of the Nixon administration), where the US government stopped buying the surplus corn harvest (a policy that kept the price high so farmers could profit), to just flat out giving farmers the difference in cash between the plummeting prices and actual cost to produce. Farmers then needed to keep producing more corn to maintain a volume just so they could break even. Productivity went from 80 bushels an acre to well over 200, and the market was flooded with low cost corn that rotted at grain elevators until “food” chemists saw the bounty of cheap fructose. The soda industry demonized sugar (sucrose) and replaced it with the much worse and far cheaper HFCS, and soon all soda in the US was sweetened with the stuff. It wasn’t long till any food that needed to become palatable included some form of HFCS, or any of the by-products of the abundant and inexpensive corn harvest. As families became fractured, no longer preparing meals from raw and fresh ingredients, it just was too easy to buy a manufactured “food”, and pop it in the microwave, with family members eating when they could or on the run.
    We need a renaissance of how we relate to our food. The “obesity epidemic” is a result of an unholy alliance between our government (the free market believers), the “food” industry, the AMA, the pharmaceuticals, and the insurance companies. We need billboards and resources that educate people as to what and how to eat. When we realign our food industry to provide good nutritious food(is there any nutrition in a “Hot Pocket”?)that is prepared by the people who will eat it, there will be no need for the Lap Band, or Jenny Craig, or Nutri-System, or any of the other diet products that are foisted upon us to undo the damage of the other crap foisted upon us!
    Just sayin’! http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/when-a-crop-becomes-king/

  2. Dr. Deah

    Clearly Ed, there is a great deal of work to do! Thanks for the info.

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