Get Over It Lady, You're Fat!
August 24, 2005
The following is a reprint from my new blog called "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb":
Just when you think you've heard it all, along come a story like this one that will literally make you shake your head in disgust, especially if you are somebody who has ever been overweight or obese and/or suffered from physical problems associated with carrying around excessive weight.
Dr. Terry Bennett, a 66-year old Rochester, New Hampshire physician who graduated from Harvard Medical School, loves antiques, and completely despises HMOs, is under investigation by the New Hampshire Board of Medicine because one of his patients got offended by one of his infamous "obesity lectures for women" where he urged her to lose weight for her health and for her long-term well-being. Bennett regularly warns his clients that obesity can and will very likely lead to such debilitating conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, acid reflux, heart attack and stroke.
"I told a fat woman she was obese," Bennett says. "I tried to get her attention. I told her, 'You need to get on a program, join a group of like-minded people and peel off the weight that is going to kill you."
While it might have been a little blunt for Bennett to share his opinion about his patient's condition the way that he did, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a doctor expressing his medical assessment that one of his patients is obese and should probably do something about it. While it may anger her to hear her doctor tell her something she didn't like, she needs to use that anger to motivate herself to finally do something about a very real problem. If we cannot rely on our own doctors to tell us the truth about our physical health, then who is going to do it?
In the interview I gave recently to my local newspaper about an upcoming article they are writing about my 180-pound weight loss, I shared with the reporter a story from my soon-to-be-released book "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" about a 7th grade boy who made a similar comment that Bennett did to his patient.
I was substitute teaching at a local middle school just a few months before I started livin' la vida low-carb and this pudgy little boy waited until my back was turned to class as I wrote some instructions on the chalkboard to exclaim, "Mr. Moore is fffffffaaaat!" Predictably, the entire class burst into raucous laughter and even I laughed to try to keep from crying about the truth in that statement. Those words rang in my head months afterward and got me to seriously assess my weight and health.
Should I have sought legal action against that 12-year old rug rat for stating the obvious to me? Heck no. In fact, that kid did me a BIG favor by shaking me into reality about my morbid obesity and very likely rescued me from a heart attack or worse -- an early grave. How people respond to criticism about their weight will determine whether they will be successful at losing their weight permanently or not.
I just have just five words for this woman who is seeking action against Bennett (in the infamous words of Jack Nicholson from the movie "A Few Good Men") - YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!
Ironically, everything that Bennett told this woman about her health nearly one year ago has come to pass since he told her she was obese. She has not only gained additional weight, but she has also become diabetic, has acid reflux and experiences frequent chest pains.
Bennett did the gentlemanly thing when he found out she was "offended" and penned a personal apology letter.
"That should have been the end of it," Bennett said.
Actually, though, it was just the beginning. The New Hampshire Attorney General's Administrative Prosecution Unit was dispatched to investigate and bring resolution to the complaint. They recommended Bennett attend a medical education course and admit wrongdoing. Not surprisingly, Bennett refused.
"I've made many errors in my lifetime. Telling someone the truth is not one of them," Bennett said.
You go boy! There is nothing for Bennett to apologize for because he has done absolutely nothing wrong. Nevertheless, this issue has not been laid to rest. A public hearing has been scheduled about what to do with Bennett. But what is there to talk about? What did Bennett do that is so wrong that his stellar career is now being jeopardized and tainted because of a psychotic patient who is living in some fantasy world if she thinks she is immune from being offended?
Wake up lady! I know you don't like it, but YOU ARE FAT! Your health is going to pot and you will very likely die a premature death if you don't get your weight under control as soon as possible! I wish more people would be willing to be that blunt about obesity. Then maybe we could get more people to get off their duff and take personal responsibility for themselves.
Bennett's attorney says this whole fiasco is (quoting Shakespeare) "much ado about nothing" and Bennett will not "roll over on this, he is going to fight."
"If the board wants to get into policing how doctors talk to their patients, they are going to be very busy."
Expressing his concern that one of his patients was angered by his comments, Bennett said this incident is "very disturbing" and he only wanted to help her "change her life" for the better.
Many of Bennett's patients have rallied around him in support of his methodology by signing a petition and will testify at the public hearing that he helped them get back on the road to healthy living with his honest feedback.
"Is he a fortune teller? No," said one of Bennett's patients. "He was a man trying to do his job. Whether I wanted to hear it or not, he was telling me the truth."
There's something missing in this story and that is the fact that this woman who was so offended by Bennett's comments about her obesity is the one who put herself in that position to begin with. Was it Bennett's fault that she ate and ate and ate, likely with very little exercise, and put herself in a position to become obese? Absolutely not! It was her own fault and hers alone. We each have to take responsibility for our own actions and need to stop blaming anyone else for our shortcomings.
This is not the first time Bennett has been the subject of a frivilous complaint. In a property lawsuit that went in his favor, Bennett was awarded nearly $200,000, half of which was for emotional distress. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets punitive damages awarded in this case, too, if it goes to trial.
The best possible outcome from this unfortunate turn of events will be if the woman drops her complaint, then drops her weight, and finally comes back to Bennett in about a year to apologize and thank him for giving her the inspiration to lose well over 100 pounds. Now wouldn't that make a happy ending to such a disturbing story.