Those of you that read Dr. Deah’s Tasty Morsels know that I have an enormous amount of rage about the Lap Band(r). My reasons are both personal and professional. A close relative of mine had the lap band procedure and it was, by all statistical measurements, unsuccessful. The fall out from the procedure was toxic both physically and emotionally for her and those around her. In my post, WWJD, I discuss the acne-like proliferation of the 1800GETTHIN billboards and how misleading they are. The radio and billboard ads give the impression that a person can zip in and zip out of lap band surgery…(what’s next…drive thru lap bands?) and a person’s life with be miraculously transformed from fat, lonely, enslaved, and miserable to skinny, happy, and free.
If this pseudo approach to health and well being offends you at all, you may be interested in two opportunities to voice your dissent that were passed on to me by Marilyn Wann, author of FATSO?
The first is a petition created by Katie Koumatos California Gov. Jerry Brown has until Oct. 9 to sign legislation that includes stricter accreditation requirements for the sort of clinics that do lap band surgery.
While I am eager for total recall of these devices, until then, it seems useful and lifesaving to make it more difficult for clinics that fail one accrediting agency’s standards to skip to another rather than improve.
The second is to send a letter to the billboard company that carries the ad. Here is the letter that Marilyn sent to: Heather.McGuire@titanoutdoor.com
Hello, Ms. McGuire:
I am writing to ask that you reconsider the advisability of offering advertising space to 1-800-GET-THIN(TM).
The Los Angeles Times reports deaths and serious complications that people have suffered after these surgeries.
Several lawsuits are now in process, alleging false advertising claims.
On Dec. 7, 2010, Los Angeles Public Health Department Director Jonathon Fielding, MD, asked the FDA to investigate the 1-800-GET-THIN(TM) advertising…
“The LAP-BAND(R) weight loss procedure is marketed directly to consumers in Los Angeles County through billboards, bus placards, and direct mail with slogans such as ‘Diets fail! The LAP-BAND(R) works!’ These ads fail to provide the relevant warnings, precautions, side effects, and contraindications related to the procedure…Given the harms of medical complications and unrealistic expectations resulting from the misleading promotion of this product, I strongly recommend that FDA to take the necessary steps to ensure that 1-800-GET-THIN(TM)
Weight Loss Centers’ LAP-BAND(R) promotion does not constitute misbranding of a restricted device.”
The same concerns would apply to this advertising campaign in San Francisco County and in the Bay Area.
This month, BNET contributor and former Adweek managing editor Jim Edwards posted an opinion piece called, “Lap-Band Deaths Pile Up As Sales Decline,” in which he called Allergan’s lap band device “a product discontinuation waiting to happen.”
Medical research questions the safety and efficacy of lap band surgery.
A European study published in July, 2011, found that 50% of people who get lap band must later have it removed.
One of the few longterm follow-up studies on lap band outcomes, published in 2006, found that 33% of people had serious complications and 22% had problems requiring further surgery. Researchers wrote that lap band “should no longer be considered as the procedure of choice for obesity.”
I understand that MTA advertising policy requires no advertisement be “false, misleading or deceptive.”
I hope you will reconsider whether 1-800-GET-THIN(TM) advertising meets your requirements.
Since 2000, San Francisco has included height and weight in the list of characteristics protected from discrimination here. It would be tragic if people in San Francisco were swayed by false, misleading, or deceptive advertising to undertake medical treatments that risk serious complications and even death, in the hope of escaping weight discrimination.
No matter what you may think about the detrimental health effects of the widely publicized “obesity crisis” I hope we can find some common ground and agree that the quick dubious fix of the Lap Band is not the way to address eating disorders or what may be viewed as an unhealthy weight.
Thank you for considering my request!