Years ago, I photographed a wedding - a lovely young couple. And two weeks after the wedding, the groom died - fell to his death while hiking the Grand Canyon. That hardly rated an obituary, let alone a news story.
Truth is, of course most deaths never make it beyond the obituary - there are just too many of them. For example, there is at least one death at every marathon and sometimes more when it's a large marathon.
When I was working as a computer software developer, there was a 36 year old who dropped dead on the basketball court. He was in "perfect shape" and his death confused everyone. But even that didn't rate a story in the news.
But there is ONE type of death which DOES rate a news story and that's any death that they can even -remotely- link to "obesity".
Often, regretably they play upon the tragedy of someone's life to sell a diet or surgery or perpetuate a scare about obesity.
For example, one news story this weekend, carried the headline "Grieving mum 'ate herself to death'!" The story goes on to tell us that this lady binge-d food after her 22 year old son died from suicide. "She tried every diet," continues the article saying that finally she had a gastric bypass and died from complications.
Wait a minute. If she died from complications of a gastric bypass how on -earth- did she eat herself to death? Well you see, labors the story, she was fat and so that's why she died from a gastric bypass or that's why she had a gastric bypass? If you start to process the story, it doesn't make sense - she died from the gastric bypass and if she had just stayed fat, she would still be living. That is, had they treated her for the binge eating instead of surgically destroying her digestive tract, she would have lived to possibly have gotten over the tragedy in her life. Instead, the providers used the excuse of her fatness to compound tragedy upon tragedy as she died from the invasive surgery which has been known to be somewhat ineffective in individuals with binge eating disorder.
What the news pundits are hoping is that you won't notice the small mention of the gastric bypass since most of the article is about how she was constantly stuffing her face. And they are right, most folks won't notice it!
The second story was even more sneaky about being fat-a-phobic.
The headline in most news media (and this story went out over the associated press, nationwide) read "
Only a couple of lines before the end of the article (which most people won't read) we find this: At 36, the bride was dead from heart disease."
"She had a previous cardiac episode in her 20s and was a poster child — literally — for juvenile diabetes, relatives and friends said... recalled seeing the poster featuring her on New York subways."Juvenile diabetes doesn't mean now what it used to - because we are told daily that this obese generation of kids is coming down with diabetes in their childhood.
So the only clue that we have in the whole article is that she was a poster child- literally- for juvenile diabetes i.e. that her posters were in the NY subways.
In other words, she didn't have diabetes type II at all - she had type I which is a totally different disease and not linked to fatness or lifestyle at all (usually the death of the pancreas in type I is caused by a virus or something like that).
Additionally what they don't bother telling us is whether she had a heart condition or not because if she did have a "cardiac episode" (do they mean a heart attack here?) in her 20's, she likely had a heart condition unrelated to the type I diabetes. Her picture was only carried in the NY Daily News which apparently originated the story. And predictably, she was not fat.
But fact remains, most people who read the story will walk away being more scared about diabetes and a willing audience for another series of articles which appeared this weekend telling the public how gastric bypass cures diabetes (it doesn't really - although the sugar levels drop during the fasting phase, the Swedish Obesity study observed at the 10 year post op point that only "35 percent of diabetics were still disease free").
What strikes me is the ruthlessness of the whole thing. How far will people go to sell a product? Advocating gastric bypass i.e. a partial destruction of the digestive tract, for normal weight or fat diabetics, misrepresenting this invasive surgery as a cure for anything and capitalizing on the tragic death of a newly wed to misreport her illness in order to promote a scare tactic to fat diabetics is more than ethically-challenged.
We've gone far beyond the old "first, do no harm" which doctors used to recite in the Hippocratic Oath. Now, it's more like do anything to sell the product and who cares about how many people are hurt in the process.