Letters: Readers comment on Medical Economics stories

July 10, 2011

Letters discuss the vocational pursuit of medicine, weight loss programs, and lifestyle changes.

An important reminder

Thank you to Steven Dudley, DVM, MD, for his article, "An open letter to my son, who is a pre-med student," in the February 25 issue.

I'm a third-year medical student, and we'll soon be having our preliminary exams. I was looking for something to remind me why I took on medicine. Everything the good doctor said about the challenges in medical school was true. Lately, I've been asking myself if I had made the right decision in pursuing this path.

Thanks again!

ROXANNE BLANCHE MANTE
Davao City, Philippines

Long-term modifications

This is in reference to Jeffrey Bendix's article, "Their loss, your gain," in the April 25 issue.

There is no question that the physical and financial tolls on our patients and healthcare system are tremendous, yet understated.

Hypertension, hyperlipidemia, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and so on are due to obesity, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition habits the majority of the time. It is has been my experience, however, that no weight loss products are effective long term for sustained weight loss and long-term health. Liquid diets, packaged meals, and other fad programs just feed into our society's penchant for wanting simple and quick fixes without any effort.

I used to be a personal trainer in my youth, before medical school and my career as a family physician. I exercise daily and am passionate about "clean" eating, which I promote to my patients on a daily basis.

We, as physicians, need to promote lifestyle changes involving exercise and learning how to eat "real" food. No one stays on these fad programs forever, so the weight will come back as soon as they return to their former ways of eating. It takes years of unhealthy living to end up obese and suffering from chronic illness. No quick fix to remedy this problem exists.

Honestly, it truly disturbs me to see physicians selling "packaged" products. It may be good for their bottom lines, but it is not a business that physicians should be in.

I think it is doing our patients a disservice to hawk fad weight loss products to them. Lead them by example, by espousing daily exercise and "clean" eating of whole, nutritious foods. Refer patients to trained nutritionists and exercise trainers.

In addition, is this the message we want to send to the youth of our society? They see their parents and elders taking expensive, "prefabricated" food-like products and it is seen as the norm. This concept is just furthering our society's penchant for lack of self-discipline and personal accountability.

Get out of the quick-fix business and into the promotion of long-term lifestyle modification [as some of the doctors featured in the article are doing]. Most importantly, lead by example-our patients do notice.

MARTIN KLEIN, MD
Flemington, New Jersey

Special family moments

Terrific article ("The Pong Principle" [by Thomas J. Ellis, MD], February 25 issue). I might add that walking and working with hobbies-at least with boys-have been special in my experience.

RICHARD A. ULRICH, MD
Warner Robins, Georgia