Dr Glen Davies. Photo / Abby Dance – The Photographer
GPs are firing back at National leader Judith Collins’ “demeaning” and “dismally disappointing” comments about obesity being a personal responsibility.
“For a New Zealand leader to make those comments is really demeaning to people who are affected by obesity… it’s a hugely complex issue and it’s absolutely not that simple,” Dr Lynn McBain, who runs a GP clinic in Wellington, told the Herald.
Earlier today, Collins doubled down on her obesity stance, describing it as a weakness and saying that people should not “blame systems for personal choices”.
Collins said: “Any decent GP will say it’s not that complicated.”
However, multiple GPs have since spoken out in outrage.
McBain said many of her patients tried really hard to lose weight and for some it was a victory if they don’t gain weight or if over a period of a year they manage to lose a kilo.
“It’s not simple, it’s not simple at all.”
She said for some, genetic components came into play or they could be facing other health issues.
“For example some diabetic patients are in terrible situation where they need insulin medication but that very medication that doctors are encouraging people to take is causing weight gain.”
“If they don’t take it then their diabetes could get out of control and they could end up with renal failure, heart diseases, amputation or blindness.”
Taupō doctor Glen Davies said Colins’ comments were wrong and government and public health officials needed to take responsibility and stop blaming patients.
“The message to eat less and move more has been dismally disappointing and it’s actually resulted in the obesity and diabetes epidemic,” Davies said.
“Patients battling obesity have a metabolic illness and are very unwell people and they need specific dietary interventions.”
He said for many New Zealanders they had followed those public health guidelines and got fatter.
“That shows the guidelines were wrong, not the individuals.
“The key is we need to be eating the way that we did for the first 5.8 million years that humans were on the planet and not the last 40 years. “
He said we needed to go back to eating whole foods and avoiding sugar and highly processed foods.
“I would love to see a government looking at the sale of sugary drinks. The only party making any mention of that is the Green Party.”
This morning Collins told MediaWorks that tackling obesity was a case of eating healthy fresh food and exercising.
“I’ve seen it in my own family,” she said.
“People have taken charge of their food and strangely enough they’ve lost weight.
“Any decent GP will say it’s not that complicated.”
She added fresh fruit and vegetables were a significantly cheaper option than processed foods, adding a meal of home-cooked chicken and veges was a great value and healthy option for dinner.
Collins said she did not look at people and think “they’re really fat”.
It was a matter of speaking truthfully about the subject, she said.
“You can take charge of your life.
“It doesn’t take much to get frozen veges in the freezer. It’s not that hard.”
Earlier when told that some had called her comments heartless, Collins said: “Do you know what is heartless? Is actually thinking someone else can cure these issues.
“We can all take personal responsibility and we all have to own up to our little weaknesses on these matters.
“Do not blame systems for personal choices.”