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obesity conference

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Feb 28, 2010

This is an email I got from a GSG reader. Dr. Larsen is a dentist who studies nutrition to help his patients and practices what he preaches. His observations at the obesity conference he recently attended parallel my own, as documented sometimes on this blog. What do you think?


I attended a seminar in Salt Lake a couple of weeks ago titled, “Obesity: A Scientific Update.” It was presented by Beverly White, PhD, RD and it was very interesting, thought you might be interested in what was said.

I will attach my notes, some of which may not make any sense, but the following are my overall impressions after the seminar.

First of all, the room was mostly full of nurses and dieticians, and I would say at least half of the group were either over weight or obese. These are the dieticians who are teaching Americans how to eat and be healthy.

The success rates for Americans who attempt fad diets is about 5-10% after 1 year. The success rates of the prescription medications is less, and ALL of them have serious side effects, and some physicians are leaving patients on them indefinitely because they know if they take them off, the weight will return, although none of the drugs have been approved for long term use. Bariatric surgeries are super expensive, and have complications and side effects as well, and not a great success rate. Dieticians working with clients may have a slightly higher success rate than the 5-10%, but when they stop seeing the nutritionist, the bad habits return and the weight comes back on. I got a very weird feeling about the whole obesity epidemic, kind of like there is nothing we can really do about it, even though we are the ones trained to help people eat healthy. Beverly cautioned the dieticians to not try to make too radical of a change to anyone’s diet, or they will rebel and not follow through.

I asked Beverly one-on-one between one of the breaks if she had read Colin Campbell, Joel Furhman, Mike Anderson, or had studied anything about plant-based diets in her PhD program. She was not familiar with any of the people I mentioned, had never heard of the China Study, for example, and they did not study plant-based diets.

At one point in the program, she asked how many eat 3-5 servings of fruits or vegetables/day (could be from a can, frozen, etc.) and about 30% of the group raised their hand. She asked if anyone eats 6-9 servings/day and I raised my hand along with I think one other person. After the class, one of the RD’s came running up to me and asked me how in the world I eat that many servings a day. I said it’s easy. I told her about green smoothies, she had never heard of them. I told her about plant-based diets, she had never heard of them.

They have done research that shows that children who are taught good nutrition at a young age can follow that for many years to come, and may be more likely to eat healthy than adults. Too bad what we’re teaching children isn’t always the best information, when it comes from government food pyramid.

Anyways, thought this might be interesting to you. It was kind of an eye-opener to me. I really feel like the MD’s and the RD’s and the nurses who are in our health care system don’t really believe in nutrition themselves.


Garon Larsen

Posted in: Recipes, Whole Food

10 thoughts on “obesity conference”

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  1. I get that feeling too, Garon. Of course I live in San Antonio, home of two very big things (well everything is big in Texas, right?)- people’s waistlines and the medical system. Coincidence?

  2. Obesity can be cured by cutting down on carb and junk food

  3. Anonymous says:

    I applaud Dr Larson for taking the opportunity to share what he knows with others. I believe that once we know something good, we have an obligation to share it with others. It is a sad commentary on our society that our health professionals don’t really know much about good health. I find it very interesting how we have so many different ideas about how to lose weight and be healthy, but so many people are not willing to be real about it. They want to embrace their food addictions and find a way to be healthy without making any real changes. I love the saying, “If you keep doing what you’ve done, you’ll keep getting what you got!”

    I am not pointing fingers, because I struggle with giving up bad food habits completely, but I know what is good for me, and I am slowly making my way toward more perfect dietary choices. It just makes so much sense… you feel better when you eat better. I have known so many people who have shed excess weight; a little and a lot. Most of them still complain about fatigue and illnesses. Losing the weight, by any means, just isn’t enough. I still have 20 pounds to go. I lost 20 pounds by drinking green smoothies and transitioning to a mostly plant-based diet. I don’t just want to be trimmer; I want to be healthy.

    Thanks Robyn. I just love your 12 Steps Program. I received it last week and have listened to all audio and read most of the book. I am teaching a small class for some women from church based on my years of research next month. So many have asked me about my weight loss and clearer skin and brighter eyes. I will gladly point them in your direction.

  4. Anonymous says:

    My son was diagnosed 2 years ago with type 1 diabetes. Our visit with the nutritionist at that time was a joke. She told us how we could give my child all of this “diet” food loaded with aspartame and it would be good for him. I knew aspartame was not good and questioned her on it, but she knew of no studies to prove it had negative side effects. I’m so happy I chose to eat more whole foods and green smoothies. His HBA1c levels are always between 6-7, which is just a hair above normal for a non-diabetic. They are always amazed! And he is on very little insulin. Shocking what these so-called nutritionists teach people:(

  5. I totally agree that the parents have to be a good role model and in fact, the entire family has to eat healthy for the child/children to fall in line. I blog on my experience with two nutritionist when my oldest daughter’s weight was either too low as a toddler to too high as an 9-year-old. I also include the great nutritionist ideas for healthy snacks and substitutions. It really does work and I’m confident that teaching my daughter to make healthy choices now will be a gift for her entire lifetime.

    Pragmatic Mom


    See entry in Black Naviagation bar: Nutrition, plus pull down blog entry on Nutrition Advice from Pediatricians for more nutrition advice.

  6. A plant based whole foods diet is really the best way I have found to solve the obesity problem. I struggled with my weight from the time I was a youth until I learned that. You can see my before and after picutres and read more about my story on http://www.simplehealthytasty.blogspot.com You can have your cake and eat it too! You just have to healthify it!

  7. Anonymous says:

    This post reminded me of the movie “Super-Size Me” where they poll 100 nutritionists about how often it is healthy to eat fast food. Almost none of them said “never”, very surprising.

    My husband got nutrition counseling once, years ago. He kept a food journal for one week. This was the analysis. Stop drinking orange juice at breakfast, too much sugar (this was the ONLY fruit serving of his day). Stop eating carrots (root vegetables are bad), No baked potatoes (ditto). There went his only two veggie sources. Try to eat leaner meat. There was no comment made on his soda habit or fast food, did the nutitionist assume he already knew better or was he afraid to offend? After this list of Do Nots, my husband asked the nutritionist what he could eat. The nutritionist advised chicken breast and suggested he have it for lunch everyday…indefinitely. He never went back.

  8. Pragmaticmom suggested looking at her blog entry on nutrition advice from her pediatrician. I read it and am wondering how drinking Crystal Lite, using canola oil, and eating margarine instead of butter could possibly be a good thing????

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Please don’t follow that advice. Low calorie isn’t the same thing as high nutrition. Thank you DeAndra.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing Dr. Larsen’s letter.

    I am interested in becoming a nutritionist, and have read books like the China Study, Eat to Live, Mad Cowboy, and others (Green Smoothies Diet of course). I have talked with a couple of nutritionists about their careers, and have participated in discussions on a few nutritionist’s blogs, and all of them have either not heard of, or have heard of but not read The China Study.

    This just amazes me. It also suggests a couple of things. Either they don’t really have the passion to improve health, or they are so afraid to change their own habits that they prefer to stay blind to information that could upset the “food pyramid is awesome” way of thinking they were taught.

    I worry that food pyramid-centric teachings are ahead of me. I promise to stay strong though! 🙂

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