Thursday, May 31, 2012

"The Doctors" Ill-Advised Suggestion for Viewers to Fake a Butter Allergy


UPDATE: The post you see below was deleted/censored from the comments section by "The Doctors" website. Attempts to repost have also been met with deletion, and there has not been any response from the producer of the program, Jay McGraw. 

Recently the Program "The Doctors" aired a segment advising their viewers to tell a "little white lie" and fake a butter allergy when eating out to avoid the ~120 calories from butter added to vegetables and other prepared items. Read it here: http://thedoctorstv.com/main/show_synopsis/1012?section=synopsis
As a food-allergic individual, and physician for hundreds of allergic patients, my jaw dropped at the irresponsibility of this suggestion. Read my response to them below, and tell me... what are your thoughts about their recommendation to fake a food allergy?


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As a practicing board-certified allergist, mother of children with allergies, and food-allergic individual, I felt compelled to reply to the irresponsible suggestion by your program that viewers "fake a butter allergy" in order to avoid caloric intake. Faking an allergy is not a "white lie". It is feigning an illness and disability, with profound consequences for those who truly suffer from the condition in question.
True food allergy is not something one "fakes". Rather, it is something that you wish you didn't have, because it can KILL YOU. Individuals with serious food allergies have a difficult enough time explaining the intricacies of cross-contamination to restaurants, and have only recently made enormous strides in restaurant safety. Your promotion of false allergy claims is a slap in the face of years of hard work, advocacy and education.
  • Encouraging your audience to feign illness is anathema to those physicians who work so hard to ensure that food allergies are not overdiagnosed, so that the diets of growing children are not unnecessarily limited.
  • Encouraging your audience to feign illness promotes a glut of false allergy claims in eating establishments, which will undoubtedly lead to true food allergies being taken less seriously by restaurant staff.
  • Encouraging your audience to feign illness goes against the grain of what you are supposed to be doing in your daily work and on your show -- promoting ACCURATE information and HEALTHY choices.
Would you encourage your viewers to fake diabetes in order to avoid sugar? How about faking celiac disease to avoid gluten?  Oh, here's a good one: let's encourage our patients to fake CANCER or disorders of DNA repair to avoid going through the whole body scanners at airports!
If the above suggestions seem unreasonable, take another look at your ill-advised recommendation. That the segment was aired during Allergy & Asthma Awareness Month is the ultimate irony.
Also, just so we have our medical facts straight... IgE-mediated food allergy is in almost all cases an aberrant immune hypersensitivity response to a food protein. Butter is a prepared food product. Claiming that you are allergic to butter is like saying you're allergic to a casserole.
The Doctors owe their viewers and the food allergy community a retraction of this ridiculous segment and a public apology.



17 comments:

  1. Well, it seems my commentary has been deemed unsuitable for publication. My comment on "The Doctors" webpage was just deleted/censored.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shame on them! Glad to see others criticized them for this deception.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well said, Doctor! Keep us posted if they reply!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for your post! I remember waiting tables - and remembering diners' odd requests. If someone asked for extra bread - I'd likely expect them to ask again if they came back. Faking an allergy on one visit, then returning to order a dish with the allergen on another day would completely lead to a lack of confidence in people with true allergies. It's crying wolf on a life threatening situation, potentially leading to fatal mistakes. It's hard enough to live with an allergy - now this?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your artwork, and for your support!

      Delete
  5. I am amazed at how often I get questions like, "Is the allergy severe?" as if there is a such thing as a mild food allergy. It is surprising that anyone who calls themselves a doctor would advocate for anything that would promote the misunderstanding of a medical condition. As we all know, no one is allergic only to butter, but to butter, milk, cheese, sour cream....all dairy. Thank you for writing about this.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My 11 yr old niece who is visiting just walked in and read your cartoon and so I gave a quick explanation of The Doctors advice on the show and she responded "That's not good, you can just ask for no butter". Out of the mouth of babes, how quickly we forget. Thank you for sharing and it is amazing how people's greed or pride can create such heinous deceit.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi, just wanted to thank Tiffany from www.foodallergyfun.com for permission to use her artwork, which tied in so well that I just had to share it here! Thanks, Tiffany!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks so much for not letting up on this! I've posted the petition link on Facebook and Twitter, please let me know if there's anything else I can do to help out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Libby! Thanks to your support and that of others like you, we met our initial signature goal of 500 (but are still accepting new signatures)! I'd love to keep going until we can get an on-air retraction.

      Delete
  9. I wrote a personal letter to my friend who is one of the executive producers of the show who hopefully forwarded it to the other Execs. I will tell you that at least one of the Producers is affected by life-threatening food allergies so I know they are getting this news and are quite embarrassed at the back lash. I invited them to be honorary chairs of the LA FAAN WALK last year and they were unable to make it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for sending the letter to your friend. I have struggled to find any public contact information for the producers, in order to forward the petition to them. I believe the show is on taping hiatus right now, but I'm hoping they will address our concerns in the upcoming season. I would be most appreciative if you would send the link for the petition on to your friend, so they can see that the food allergy community is committed to this issue! http://www.change.org/petitions/executive-producer-the-doctors-television-program-issue-an-on-air-retraction-of-the-advice-to-fake-a-butter-allergy Thank you!

      Delete
  10. Squeaky wheel gets the grease? The comments from myself and other food allergy advocates which were censored by "The Doctors" website were restored as of 6/8/12! That's great news, but our work isn't done. The program is still standing by this segment, the synopsis of which is still available on their website (and is linked below). Please keep sharing the petition with your family and friends until a retraction is issued! Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ummm...nevermind. My comments have been deleted again.

      Delete
  11. New update: "The Doctors" program has removed the advice to "fake a butter allergy" from their website! The synopsis of the program now reads "Hold the Butter" instead. http://www.thedoctorstv.com/main/show_synopsis/1012?section=synopsis
    Also, the video of tip #9 has been removed from the website. All those signatures and comments are making an impact! However, although it is an encouraging start, quietly removing misinformation from the website doesn't truly counteract the detrimental effects of the aired segment. That will require an on-air retraction (ideally coupled with a segment focused on food allergy awareness). Let's keep encouraging the program to do the right thing...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm surprised this advice ever aired. The pediatrician on the show always seems to be such a patient advocate. Food allergies are so common with kids, you'd think he would have had more interest and the sense to object to the bad advice. They really owe it to people with food allergies to make a statement saying that falsely claiming a food allergy is wrong and possibly harmful to those who really are allergic.

      Delete

Thanks for taking the time to comment on this blog's posts! Let's keep the discussion engaging and free of frivolous advertising or vulgarity. It's a family show, folks!