by Alison Rose Levy
The Medical Establishment’s “Favorite” Doctor and His Crusade Against Supplements and Alternative Medicine
“People are systematically choosing to manage their own health in a way that is unprecedented,” points out James S. Turner, chairman of Citizens for Health, a health advocacy group with over 100,000 members. “The conventional treatments that Offit champions are often very helpful. The problem is that the industry has oversold them, and more and more people see that now.”
If Offit’s book had aimed to explore all health options even-handedly for their upsides and their downsides, it might have truly advanced the conversation about how to better health and lower healthcare costs. (And ranking below 16 developed nations across the lifespan and for all income levels, while stuck in the midst of a polarized debate over costs and coverage, the U.S. sorely needs that conversation.) But instead, in his book and media tour, Dr. Offit plays the predictable role of debunker, single-mindedly championing his own medical brand. Unfurling an arch skepticism about the use of herbs and other nutritional supplements, for example, Offit presents himself as the stalwart for science. But it’s instructive to see what happens when he encounters someone conversant with the health literature.
Washington, DC – You may recall back in 2010 we worked to stop passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The bill was an effort by Congress to appease angry consumers fed up with a spate of incidents of food contamination (like that year’s salmonella outbreak and recall of eggs) resulting from the unhealthy livestock farming practices of industrial suppliers.
We were concerned that the bill would apply the regulations explicitly crafted to regulate large industrial facilities (factory farms and industrial agriculture and manufacturers) to small businesses as well (family farmers, organic growers, farmer’s markets, food artisans and local suppliers). The financial impact of complying with the burdensome reporting requirements could have put such small suppliers out of business.
That’s why we fought so hard for the Tester-Hagan amendment. It authorized more modest reporting requirements for small providers and exempted them from the extensive ones required of larger companies. This exemption is essential to the continued vitality of the local foods movement.
Since this blog was published in January, research done on rats by Dr. Francesco Leri, an associate professor of neuroscience and applied cognitive science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada (which we talked about two weeks ago) has determined that high fructose corn syrup is indeed an addictive substance. Dr. Leri found that that the more he increased the percentage of HFCS, the more the rats worked to obtain it, which is “exactly what you notice with drug abuse, the same type of pattern.” Nor did satiating the rats on their regular chow make the craving for HFCS go away. When administered saccharine, however, the rats did not continue to crave it as they had with HFCS. To Leri, this indicated that ”HFCS has effects that are beyond the sweetness in the mouth … effects on the brain.”