By Marika Sboros
Something is rotten in the state of nutrition science. In parts, it’s terminally ill. One symptom is cyber bullying. It’s a virus that is infecting doctors and dietitians on an unprecedented scale. These health professionals are also using their associations to spread the virus further and target nutrition experts who challenge conventional nutrition “wisdom”.
They are active on Twitter and Facebook hate pages. Those are toxic and unprofessional environments for doctors and dietitians to inhabit.
Two bloggers have started a series aimed at naming and shaming cyber bullies. It’s rough stuff but could help to stop infection rates. Cyber bullying creates significant collateral damage. It causes depression, even among doctors. It leads victims to kill themselves. Here’s the first in the series.
Before then, some background. One Facebook hate page that doctors and dietitians regularly use for severe bouts of cyber bullying is Blocked by Pete Evans (BBPE). It featured in a recent Australian Senate Inquiry into the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) medical complaint process.
BBPE appears to have the blessing of Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA). A DAA spokesperson regularly comments on the hate page attacking doctors as do other doctors and dietitians.
But it’s the doctors that really surprise me on BBPE. One GP even told prominent Australian nutrition therapist Christine Cronau to “f… off” on the page. You’d think the AHPRA wouldn’t look kindly on that kind of unethical behaviour.
Another prominent BBPE victim is top Australian orthopaedic surgeon Dr Gary Fettke, as the Senate Inquiry heard. AHPRA has banned Fettke from talking to diabetic and overweight patients about nutrition in general and sugar in particular. BBPE cyber bullies are having a feeding frenzy on that.
Fettke is rightly devastated because he sees the ravages of obesity and diabetes on his patients daily. Thus, he will just have to find other ways to help his diabetic patients avoid losing limbs.
AHPRA is trying hard – and failing miserably – to suggest it isn’t going after Fettke for his advocacy of low-carb, healthy-fat (LCHF) for diabetics. They say he is acting “beyond his scope of practice” or some such nonsense.
The action against Fettke has not surprisingly elicited a deluge of protests from doctors in Australia and globally. They say AHPRA is making Australia the laughing stock of the medical world. I’d say that’s spot on, and the diagnosis is pandering to vested interests.
BBPE, on the other hand, is enthusiastically supporting AHPRA, probably because most of those who comment on it are embedded in those vested interests. It is also hinting – or saying outright, that there’s more to its case against Fettke than meets the eye. In other words, BBPE is doing what they do best: cyber bullying and trolling Fettke by suggesting that he’s at fault and hiding something. All without a smidgeon of proof, of course, but cyber bullies don’t concern themselves with niceties such as proof and fairness.
The bloggers who want to do something about cyber bullying are the KetoDudes: Carl Franklin in the US and Richard Morris in Australia, both software developers in their 40s.
Click here to read: WHY CAN’T DR FETTKE TALK TO PATIENTS ABOUT SUGAR?
Both are recovering type 2 diabetics. Both have challenged nutrition dogma that their doctors and dietitians have dished out. They say that the dogma left them fat and sick. Consequently, Franklin and Morris did their own research and put themselves on ketogenic diets. They both lost large amounts of weight quickly and safely and are now off all diabetic medication.
Click here to read the delightful KetoDudes’ amazing, ongoing health transformations.
In the first of the series on cyber bullying, Franklin and Morris focus on the experience of Canadian nephrologist Dr Jason Fung. Fung made a comment on Twitter last month about obesity experts at a conference that some people immediately interpreted as fat-shaming. You would have thought he had posted nude pictures of them in compromising positions, so vicious was the Twitter response.
Yet Fung didn’t actually fat-shame. He didn’t mention the experts’ weight. The photograph he used was from the conference brochure. Quite frankly, I didn’t see Fung’s comment as fat-shaming. Open to misinterpretation? Yes. Sarcastic? Sure. But then, Oscar Wilde once called sarcasm the “lowest form of wit”. Wilde also called it the “highest form of intelligence”.
Fung’s tweet was a minor lapse of judgment but who among us hasn’t had one of those. I’ve commented in the past that I wouldn’t trust fat dietitians or doctors to give advice on weight loss. That didn’t go down well so now I keep that opinion to myself – unless provoked.
I still have trouble trusting overweight doctors or dietitians on diet, with some exceptions: those who are genuinely struggling with their weight despite doing all the “right things”. They are open about their battles and they dish out evidence-based advice to patients, not dogma. And the definitely don’t sugar-coat the dangers of carbs.
Here’s a shortened version of Franklin and Morris’s first blog (with a link to the full version at the end). They hone in on the Canadian physician who goes on occasional unedifying Twitter tirades aimed not just at Fung but other doctors too. The physician doesn’t agree that he does any cyber bullying. His response is also at the end.
By Carl Franklin and Richard Morris
Maybe you’ve tried a low-carb, ketogenic diet and like us you have reversed your own type 2 diabetes. You might be wondering why everyone isn’t talking about this.
You might be wondering why, in 2016, experts are still recommending that people with diabetes eat a high-carb, low-fat diet. They also recommend simply restricting calories and increasing exercise when that advice only ever leads to diabetes progressing and worsening.
The reality is that when medical professionals do speak out in support of a hormonal solution to diabetes that is working, others bully them into shutting up. We’re doing a series of posts about cyber bullying and how the people who do stand up, get bullied. It begins with (Canadian nephrologist) Dr Jason Fung.
Click here to read: DIABETES CAN BE CURED! A DOCTOR’S JOURNEY
Carl and I interviewed Fung on Episode 26 – The Obesity Code with Dr. Jason Fung. It’s still the most popular podcast we have ever done. If you listened to the podcast or have ever heard Fung’s many YouTube recordings you know his premises:
- It’s not your fault you are fat; your hormones are driving this, not your choices;
- Medical science has lied to you by telling you that it’s your fault you eat too much and exercise too little;
- The two-compartment model explains how you became diabetic, and how you can reverse your diabetes.
Fung has put all his content free online on YouTube for years. Millions of views later, Carl and I hear every day from people who have watched his videos and say Fung has changed their lives. He also has a clinical practice in Toronto that has successfully treated over a thousand patients He has written two books: The Obesity Code and Intermittent Fasting, co-authored by Jimmy Moore.
(Canadian family physician) Dr Yoni Freedhoff flew into a Twitter rage about Fung being a “fat-shamer”. On the face of it, that is a ridiculous assertion for anyone who has ever seen any of Fung’s presentations.
We’ve interviewed Fung, watched all his online presentations and followed his blog for years. Carl and I have always believed that he had an extraordinary compassion for obese patients. He also helps many for free.
No doubt, he makes a decent living treating patients in his clinic. However, he also gives away all the same techniques on YouTube for free for anyone to apply in their own lives.
For years, Fung has been critical of the obesity establishment. He blames them for failing to understand the obesity problem and for allowing the obesity epidemic to happen.
Recently, Fung posted a tweet, which specifically identified his problem with keynote “experts” at an obesity conference in New Orleans. They were concerned about genetics and calories rather than what is self-evidently the problem – hyperinsulinemia and the hormonal theory.
Fung also linked a picture to it. It was a mildly ironic tweet for those accustomed to his blunt style. Nevertheless, some found it offensive. A normal person might reach out to Fung to ask him to remove the tweet. Freedhoff, however, immediately cried “Fat-shamer!”.
Where was this fat shaming? Fung had not mentioned weight. Was it in the picture which he attached? That picture was provided by the conference itself. If Fung was fat-shaming, then surely so was ObesityWeek 2016 itself.
Freedhoff was the only one who observed that the two keynote speakers at an obesity conference were obese. We have not seen him apologise for being a fat-shamer.
A review of Freedhoff’s tweets of just the last month reveals the real issue here. This is only the latest in a long string of hateful tweets against different doctors.
Consider the evidence in black and white. To protect the innocent, we’ve redacted the names of the victims of his bullying.
On October 14, Freedhoff urges one doctor to “Delete your medical license”. For what? This poor man simply expressed his opinion.
He is not simply a family doctor like Freedhof is. He is, in fact, a Harvard-trained professor of surgery.
On October 26, Freedhoff calls another victim “idiotic” for having an opinion. Freedhoff, knowing he has a large Twitter following, immediately uses it to bully. This is cyber-bullying of the first order. We teach our kids not to do it, but Freedhoff, an assistant professor of family medicine at Ottawa University (@OttawaU), routinely engages in it.
On October 31, he publicly alleges that yet another doctor, a well-respected internal medicine specialist, is selling “bullshit”.
Also on October 31, Freedhoff accuses a doctor of “unflinching scumbaggedness”. He offers no proof other than his own opinion. This is all within the space of a few weeks.
Even as Fung apologised, Freedhoff, fellow cyber bullies and anti-keto trolls gloated over the Internet about how they “took him down”.
It was disgusting to read doctors and dietitians applauding this horrible behavior.
This has nothing to do with protecting the fragile egos of two obesity experts. This has everything to do with Fung’s continued success at reversing obesity and type 2 diabetes in thousands of patients. His success challenges their world view.
(Editor’s note: Fung may not have helped himself much in his response to questions from Belluz by starting off, according to her article, saying: “Would you take financial advice from a homeless man?”. Belluz goes on to quote Fung saying that he did not aim his tweet at the experts’ weight, but rather the content of their talks. He said: “I think that these ‘experts’ have the wrong paradigm of obesity — that is, genetics and calories. I think both are irrelevant to obesity. My problem is not with them personally. My problem is that they are keynote speakers and set the agenda for the entire medical profession. Lots of people are saying that I’m fat-shaming. I’m not. I’m pointing out that our current understanding of obesity is totally wrong. And I see it every day in my practice, and it kills me.” That sounds reasonable enough to me.)
Hundreds of people who reversed their diabetes thanks to Fung know this accusation of fat-shaming to be ludicrous. They tweeted in defence of this man who has made such a difference in their lives. Freedhoff, of course, is silent.
However, Fung was only the latest in a long line of targets for his bullying.
Cyber bullies attack the person and avoid engaging the argument. That is the difference between a professional and a cyber bully.
- Dr Yoni Freedhoff is unrepentant. He responds:
“Decontextualised tweets aren’t evidence of cyber bullying. Nor was me calling out Fung who when questioned by Julia made his point crystal clear. According to him, the opinions of experts with obesity on obesity are as worth listening to as the opinions of the homeless on finance. Probably worth noting that in my tweets in response to Fung, not only did I not name him but, in fact, I refused to name him when asked. He later outed himself.
“Regarding the other tweets referenced, the ‘delete your medical account’ was directed at Dr Oz and his continued predation on the public with idiotic weight-loss messages.
“I’d make each and every one of (those tweets) again.”