Imagine being 13 years old, standing in front of a judge, accused of the “crime” of being fat. Imagine the incredible pain you would feel as the judge announces that in the interests of your ‘health’, you will be removed from your family. But there’s no need to imagine. During the height of the UK COVID-19 pandemic, two children were removed from their loving home and put into foster care. The ONLY reason was that both kids were fat. This harrowing story raised the ire of the fabulous Fat Doctor UK, who advocated and pleaded and offered to help educate the social workers, judge, and anyone who would listen, but her valiant attempts have so far been ignored. Two kids have lost their families, thanks to fatphobia. Join me and the fabulous Fat Doctor UK as we get UTTERLY fired up about this travesty of justice. This is a tough listen so please make sure you have adequate spoons.


Show Transcript

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0:00:12.7 Louise: Welcome to All Fired Up. I’m Louise, your host. And this is the podcast where we talk all things anti-diet. Has diet culture got you in a fit of rage? Is the injustice of the beauty ideal? Getting your knickers in a twist? Does fitspo, make you wanna spit spo? Are you ready to hurl if you hear one more weight loss tip? Are you ready to be mad, loud and proud? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get all fired up.

0:00:40.3 Louise: Hello, diet culture drop-outs. I’m so pleased to be with you again and very excited about today’s episode. Okay, so first of all, I wanna say a massive thank you to all of the listeners who are so faithful and loving. And I love all your messages and emails, so keep them coming. And if you love the show, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss the episodes as they pop out on a roughly monthly basis. And if you love us, give us five stars because the more five star reviews we get, particularly on Apple Podcasts, the louder the message is, the more listeners we get and the quicker we can topple diet culture. And that’s the objective here.

0:01:24.7 Louise: If you’re looking for some free stuff to help you with your anti-diet journey, gosh I hate that word. Let’s call it an adventure. Anti-Diet Adventure, ’cause that’s what it is. It’s rocking and rolling. It’s up and down. It’s not predictable. But if you’re looking for a resource where you might be going to medical visit, you might be trying to explain just what you’re doing to friends and family, look no further than the free e-book; Everything You’ve Been Told About Weightloss Is Bullshit, written by me and the Anti-Diet Advanced doctor dietician, Dr Fiona Willer. In it we’re busting the top 10 myths that float around diet culture like poo in a swimming pool, about the relationship between health and weight, and we’re busting myths left, right and centre.

0:02:06.8 Louise: It’s a really awesome resource. It’s crammed full of science and facts and it will really help steel you and give you the armour that you need to push back against diet culture. So if you wanna grab a copy, it’s absolutely free. Like I said, you can go to Instagram which is untrapped_ au and click on the link in the bio and grab a copy there. Or you can go to the website untrapped.com.au and a little pop-up will come and you will grab it there. More free stuff, if you are struggling with relationship with your body during the last couple of years in particular, Befriending Your Body is my free e-course. All about self-compassion, this amazing skill of being kind and befriending your body. And it’s like a super power, self-compassion, because we’re all taught from the moment we’re born, practically, to disconnect and dislike and judge and body police ourselves. Not exactly a recipe for happiness and satisfaction.

0:03:05.9 Louise: So, this little e-course will help build the skill of self-compassion, which is absolutely awesome because if we can learn to connect with our imperfect bodies, we can learn to inhabit them, to look after them and to push back against the forces that are still trying to get us separate from them. You can find the Befriending Your Body e-course from Instagram. So, untrapped_au. Click on the link, Befriending Your Body, it’s all free, it’s beautiful. It’s just so lovely to practice self-compassion meditations. Self-compassion is built for difficult times. And my friends, we’re in a difficult time. So, get hold of that if you haven’t already.

0:03:47.6 Louise: Big shout out and hello to all of the Untrapped community, the Master Class and online community, who we meet every week. We push back against diet culture together. We share our stories, we’ve been supporting each other through the various challenges of lockdown and it’s just a wonderful community of awesome human beings. So, if you’re struggling and you want to join a community, as well as learning all of the skills of how to do things like intuitive eating, returning to a relationship with moving your body that doesn’t feel like hard work. Understanding weight stigma and weight prejudice, relationship with body, all of that kind of stuff is covered in this comprehensive course, Untrapped, which I co-created in 2017 with 11 other amazing anti-diet health professionals.

0:04:39.9 Louise: So if you wanna grab a hold of this program and join our online community, please do and now’s the time. We’re meeting weekly. So every Saturday, I meet with the whole community and we have an awesome chinwag about everything that’s going on. You also get all of the material. And there’s other things that happened throughout the year like events and retreats. Well, if they’re not scuppered by COVID. [chuckle] In usual times, we are able to do that. Well, if that’s not being scuppered by COVID, of course. But in ordinary times, we do extra stuff. So find out more about Untrapped on the website, untrapped.com.au. You can also find a link from Insta. So, I think that’s a run through all of the preamble.

0:05:23.5 Louise: Now, we arrive at the exciting time. I am so excited to bring you today’s episode. You would have heard of the Fat Doctor UK by now, because she burst onto the internet a few months ago. And it seems like she’s everywhere and she is loud and she is angry and she’s a GP. So, here we have a very fierce, fat-positive voice, straight out of the UK medical profession, which is sorely needed. And I’ve just got so much admiration for Natasha and everything that she’s doing. And I was actually listening to the Mindful Dietician podcast when I first heard Natasha being interviewed by the wonderful, Fi Sutherland. And during that conversation, she mentioned an awful situation in the UK where two kids were removed from their family for being fat.

0:06:13.9 Louise: And I’d actually seen that story and was so horrified that I kind of shelved it a way. But hearing Natasha talk about it and what she decided to do about it herself, it just inspired me. I just knew I had to talk to her. So this episode is everything. It’s a long one, and it’s a bloody rollercoaster. We go a lot of places during this epic, fantastic conversation. So you are going to laugh, you are going to cry. You’re gonna cry more than once, because I know I did. You’re gonna be absolutely furious, because just what we’re talking about is just so horrific. We are in the 21st century and kids are being removed from loving homes simply because of BMI and a failure to do the impossible, which is lose weight and keep it off via the epic fail of dieting.

0:07:06.8 Louise: So look, this is really a challenging episode to listen to. It’s a horrible story but the conversation with The Fat Doctor, Natasha herself is nothing short of inspiring. This woman is on a crusade. She has got heaps of other people involved in changing the landscape in a meaningful way. She is a real champion in the UK and across the planet, and I know you’re gonna enjoy this conversation, but have some tissues close by and keep your slow breathing going to help contain the rage ’cause it’s real. So without further ado, I give you me and The Fat Doctor herself, Natasha Larmie. So Tash, thank you so much for coming on the show.

0:07:49.0 Natasha Larmie: Thank you so much for having me, I am so excited. Due to the time difference, it’s past midnight now and I’ve never been this awake past midnight before, so I’m really looking forward to this talk.

0:07:58.8 Louise: Oh my god, I am so impressed with your fired up-ness. [laughter]

[laughter]

0:08:04.6 Louise: Tell me what is firing you up.

0:08:07.3 NL: Just in general or specifically about this case? ‘Cause obviously a lot of things are firing me up, but I mean, obviously…

0:08:11.7 Louise: Yes.

0:08:12.5 NL: We wanna talk about this particular case that’s firing me up.

0:08:16.3 Louise: Yes, what is this case?

0:08:17.9 NL: Yeah, what’s going on with this case. So I think it was back in September, October last year that it happened, but I became aware of it a few months later, where two young people, one was actually over the age of 16 and his sibling, his younger sibling is under the age of 16, had been removed from a very loving home, for all intents and purposes, a very loving, happy home and placed into foster care by a judge simply because they were fat, and there is really no other reason at all. There was no other signs of child abuse, neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, nothing. It’s just because they were fat and they failed to lose weight, a judge removed them from a loving home and placed them in foster care, and the older sibling, I think he’s 16, 17, didn’t actually have to go in because he was too old and the younger girl, she’s 13, and she was removed from her home.

0:09:11.5 NL: And when I read about it I think I was so disgusted, it sort of broke… One newspaper reports on it in the UK, and it was several weeks later I guess, because the court transcript had come out, and I read it, I read the article, and I just thought, “Well, this is just the press over-exaggerating.” And then someone said… One friend of mine sent me a text message saying, “No, no, no, just read the court’s transcript. Transcript, read it,” and sent me a link to the court transcript. I read the whole thing and within an hour I think I read the whole thing, and I was in tears. I was so full of rage that I just felt like something had to be done and started a petition. Have tried really hard to get answers, to push people to look into this case but unfortunately, haven’t got very far because we’re dealing with people who have very much kind of shut us down and have said, “It’s not your concern. This is a judge who made this decision and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

0:10:05.4 Louise: Really?

0:10:05.7 NL: So I’m pretty fired up. Yeah.

0:10:07.2 Louise: Oh, god. Oh, I mean, when you say it out loud, like my whole body is responding. When I read the court transcripts last night, I put it off because I knew that I just probably would have a massive reaction and I was crying too, because this transcript is literally fucking heartbreaking.

0:10:26.5 NL: Tears.

0:10:27.2 Louise: That they’re all admitting that this is… No one wants to be split up, they love each other but there’s this stupid idea, as if everybody is completely unaware of science and weight science and how fucked dieting is.

0:10:41.5 NL: Yeah.

0:10:42.2 Louise: And how it doesn’t fucking work.

0:10:44.4 NL: No.

0:10:44.7 Louise: And it’s in a pandemic.

0:10:46.0 NL: Yeah, yeah.

0:10:46.7 Louise: If I fail to lose weight in a lockdown, when the world was going mad…

0:10:51.6 NL: And I mean, actually, the story begins I think 10 years previously, the story begins when they were three and six. These were two children, a three-year-old and a six-year-old who were picked up most likely because… I don’t know if it’s the same in Australia, but in the UK we have a screening program, so in year one, which is between the age of five and six, you are weighed and measured by a school nurse, and they…

0:11:13.4 Louise: Really?

0:11:13.9 NL: Yeah. And do you not have that? No.

0:11:15.6 Louise: No.

0:11:15.7 NL: We have. This is the National Child Measurement Programme, there’s a acronym, but I didn’t bother to learn.

0:11:21.2 Louise: Oh my god.

0:11:21.6 NL: But it happens in year one, which is when you’re between five and six, and again in year six, which is when you’re between 10 and 11.

0:11:29.0 Louise: Oh Christ.

0:11:29.2 NL: Two of the worst times to weigh people…

0:11:30.0 Louise: Correct, yeah.

0:11:32.0 NL: If you’re think about it, because of course, especially around the 10, 11 stage some people are heading towards puberty, pre-puberty, some people are not, and so those that are heading towards pre-puberty will often have gained quite a bit of weight because you know that always happens before you go through puberty, you kind of go out before you go up, and that’s completely normal, but they get penalised. But anyway, so I imagine… I don’t know, because that’s not actually in the transcripts but I’m guessing that at six, the older sibling, the boy was shown to be grossly overweight or whatever they call it, morbidly obese. They probably just measured his BMI, even though he was six, they probably measured it, which is just ridiculous ’cause that’s not what BMI is for, and rather than looking at growth charts, which is what we should be doing at that age, they will have just sent a letter home and the teachers would have got involved and somewhere along the line, social services would have been called just because of the weight, nothing else, just because of the weight, and social services…

0:12:25.8 Louise: Just because of the percentile of a BMI.

0:12:28.5 NL: That was all it was. It was just weight. There was literally no concerns of ever been raised about these kids apart from their weight. And at the age of three and six, social services got involved and started forcing these children to diet, and they will say that’s not what they did, they tried to promote healthy eating, but when you take a three-year-old and a six-year-old and you tell them… You restrict what they eat, you force them to exercise, and you tell them there’s something wrong with them, you are putting them on a diet at the age of three to six, and we know, for sure, with evidence, you know, I know, and everyone listening should know by now that when you put young children on a diet like that at such a young age and you make such a big deal out of their weight, they are going to develop disordered eating patterns, and they are going to…

0:13:06.8 Louise: Of course.

0:13:07.8 NL: Gain weight, so…

0:13:09.3 Louise: They’re going to instead, that’s a trauma process happening.

0:13:12.2 NL: That’s true. Yeah, it’s…

0:13:13.8 Louise: A trauma to get child protective services involved.

0:13:17.8 NL: Yeah, and live there for 10 years, and then…

0:13:21.4 Louise: Ten years?

0:13:22.5 NL: Got to the stage where they took the proceedings further and further, so that they kept getting more and more involved. And eventually, they decided to make this a child protection issue. Up until that point, child social services were involved, but then, about a year before the court proceedings, something like that, before the pandemic. What happened then was that they gave these children a set amount of time to lose weight, and they enforced it. They bought them Fitbits so that they could monitor how much exercise they were doing, they bought them gym subscriptions, they sent them to Weight Watchers. [chuckle]

0:13:55.9 Louise: Fantastic, ’cause we know that works.

0:13:58.4 NL: We know that works. And of course, as you said, it was during a lockdown. So, Corona hits and there was lockdown, there was schools were closed, and for us, it was really quite a difficult time. And in spite of all of that…

0:14:13.0 Louise: I can’t believe it.

0:14:14.9 NL: When the children failed to lose weight, the judge decided that it was in their best interest to remove them from their loving parents. And dad, from what I can tell from the court transcripts. I don’t know if you noticed this as well. I think mom was trying very hard to be as compliant as possible.

0:14:26.9 Louise: She was, and even she lost weight, the poor thing.

0:14:30.0 NL: Yes, but I think dad almost seems to be trying to protect them, saying, “This is ridiculous. You can’t take my kids away just because of their weight,” and I…

0:14:38.1 Louise: Seems like he was in denial, which I fully understand.

0:14:41.1 NL: I would be too, I would be outraged. And it sounds like this young girl… I don’t know much about the boy, but from what I can see from the transcripts, this young girl really became quite sad and low and depressed, and obviously, shockingly enough, her self esteem has been completely ruined by this process.

0:14:58.7 Louise: I know, I know. I really saw that in the transcript. This poor little girl was so depressed and getting bullied. And in the transcript, the way that that is attributed to her size and not what abuse they’re inflicting on this family.

0:15:13.3 NL: Right. Yeah, really quite shocking. And then of course, the other thing you probably noticed from the transcript is there is no expert testimony at this court proceeding. None whatsoever. There is no psychologist.

0:15:24.0 Louise: Actually, there was.

0:15:25.8 NL: There was…

0:15:26.6 Louise: Dr… What’s her name?

0:15:29.4 NL: Yes. You’re right, there was a psychologist, and you’re absolutely right. She was not an eating disorder specialist or a… She was just a psychologist.

0:15:37.3 Louise: She’s a clinical psychologist. Dr. Van Rooyen, and she’s based in Kent, and she does court reports for child abuse. Yes, and I can see her weight stigma in there. She’s on the one hand acknowledging that the kids don’t wanna go, that the kids will suffer mentally from being removed, but you can also see her unexamined weight stigma. And that you’re right, where the hell are the weight scientists saying, “Actually, it’s biologically impossible to lose weight and maintain it”? Because in the transcripts, they do mention that the kids have lost weight, failed to keep it off.

0:16:16.5 NL: Exactly, exactly. And it’s just shocking to me that there would be such a lack of understanding and no desire to actually establish the science or the facts behind this. If I was a judge… I’m not a judge, I’m not an expert, but if I was a judge and I was making a decision to remove a child from a home based purely on the child’s inability to lose weight, I would want to find out if it was possible that this child simply couldn’t lose weight on their own. I would want to consult experts. I would want to find out if there was a genetic condition. I’m not saying she has a genetic condition. You and I know that she doesn’t need to have a genetic condition in order to struggle to lose weight, that actually, the psychology behind this explains it. But even if you’ve not got to that stage yet, there was no doctors, there was no dietitians, there was no… No one was consulted. It was a psychologist who had no understanding of these specific issues, who, as you said, was clearly biased. There was social workers who said, “We’ve done everything we can because we’ve given them a Fitbit and we’ve sent them to Weight Watchers and sent them to the gym, but they refuse to comply.”

0:17:24.9 Louise: I know. It’s shocking.

0:17:28.4 NL: Yeah, it strikes me that we live in a world where you just can get away with this. It’s just universally accepted that being fat is bad, and it’s also your fault, your responsibility. The blame lies solely on the individual, even if that individual is a three-year-old child, it is. And if it’s not the child, then of course, it’s the parent. The parent has done something wrong.

0:17:52.1 Louise: Specifically the mother, okay.

0:17:53.5 NL: The mother, yeah.

0:17:54.4 Louise: The one with the penis, okay, let’s not talk about him, ’cause that was absent. It was the mom. And the only possibility that was examined in this is that it’s mom’s fault for not being compliant, like you said. That’s the only thing. Nothing else like the whole method is a stink-fest of ineffective bullshit.

0:18:13.5 NL: And there’s the one point in the transcript when they talk about the fact that she had ice cream or chips or something in the house.

0:18:19.7 Louise: That’s Ms. Keeley, their social worker, who went in and judged them. And did you notice that she took different scales in during that last visit? That last visit that was gonna determine whether or not they’d be removed, she took different scales in and weighed them. And they say, “Look, we acknowledge that that could’ve screwed up the results, but we’re just gonna push on with removal.”

0:18:43.0 NL: It was their agenda.

0:18:45.0 Louise: It was. It’s terrifying, and it’s long-term foster care for this poor little girl who doesn’t wanna leave her mom. I’m so fired up about this, because the impact of removing yourself from your home because of your body, how on earth is this poor kid gonna be okay?

0:19:05.7 NL: This is my worry. How is mom going to be okay? How is that boy going to be okay? And how is that young, impressionable girl… My oldest son is a little bit older, and my younger son is a little bit younger, she’s literally in between the two, and I’m watching what the last two years or last year and a half has done to them in terms of their mental and emotional well-being. And to me, even without social services’ involvement, my children’s mental health has deteriorated massively. And I cannot even begin to comprehend what this poor girl is going through. I cannot imagine how traumatized she is, and I cannot see how is she ever going to get over this, because she’s been going through it since she was three, and it’s not at the hand of a parent, it’s at the hand of a social worker, it is the social worker’s negligence. And what’s interesting is a lot of social workers and people who work in social services have reached out to me since I first talked about this case, and they have all said the same thing, the amount of weight stigma in social services in the UK is shocking. It is shocking. It is perfectly acceptable to call parents abusers just because their children are overweight.

0:20:21.8 Louise: Jesus.

0:20:22.2 NL: No other reason, just your child is over the limit, is on the 90th percentile or whatever it is, your child is overweight and therefore you as a mother, usually as you said, it’s a mother, are an abusive mother, because you’ve brought your child up in a loving environment but they failed to look the way that you want them to look, that’s it.

0:20:41.0 Louise: Okay. So, that’s me, right. My eldest is in the 99th percentile, so I am an abuser, I’m a child abuser.

0:20:47.3 NL: Child abuser, I can’t believe I’m probably talking to one.

0:20:49.3 Louise: I know. [laughter]

0:20:49.9 NL: I can’t believe I’m probably talking to one. And you know, the irony, my son’s been really poorly recently and he’s been up in… I mean we’ve spent most of our life in the hospital the last few weeks, and…

0:20:58.1 Louise: Oh dear.

0:20:58.3 NL: Went to see a paediatrician and they did the height and weight, and he is on the 98th percentile, my son has a 28-inch waist. He is a skeleton at the moment because he’s been really ill, but he is mixed race, and we all know that the BMI is not particularly…

0:21:12.9 Louise: It’s racist.

0:21:13.2 NL: Useful anyway, but it’s massively racist, so my children have always been, if you weigh them, a lot heavier than they look, because I mean he’s… There isn’t an ounce of fat on him. My point is that BMI is complete utter bullshit and it doesn’t deserve to exist. The fact that we’ve been using up until now is shameful and as a doctor, I cannot accept that we use this as a measure of whether a person is healthy and certainly as a measure of whether a child is healthy, because until recently, we were told you don’t do BMIs on anyone under the age of 16 but that’s just gone out the window now, everyone…

0:21:48.5 Louise: I know.

0:21:48.6 NL: Gets a BMI, even a six-year-old.

0:21:50.1 Louise: You get a BMI, you get a BMI. [laughter] I think it’s not supposed to be used for an individual anything, it’s a population level statistic.

0:22:01.1 NL: And a pretty crappy one at that.

0:22:02.3 Louise: It’s a shitty one.

0:22:02.6 NL: It is like you said.

0:22:04.2 Louise: Yes.

0:22:04.6 NL: It’s based on what European men, it’s not particularly useful for men, it’s not particularly useful for any other race, it’s just useful perhaps. Even when it came out, like even when… What’s his face? I forget his name right now, Ancel Keys. When he did that study that first look, brought in the BMI into our medical world as it were, yeah, even he said at the time it was alright. It’s not the best, it’s not the worst, it will do. It’s the best out of the bunch. I mean he didn’t even have much enthusiasm at the time. He said specifically it’s not meant to be used as an individual assessment. And even the guy who kind of didn’t invent it, but he sort of invented it as a measure of “obesity” and yet… And even he didn’t have much good stuff to say about it. If he was selling the latest iPhone, Apple would have a lot to say about that. [laughter] I just… This fact that we’ve become obsessed and we know why this is. We know this is because of the diet industry, we know this is because of people trying to make money out of us and succeeding, very successful at making money out of us.

0:23:02.9 Louise: It’s actually terrifying how successful this is because when I read this transcript, I’ve been doing a lot of work against the Novo Nordisk impact and how our modern oh, narrative has been essentially created by the pharmaceutical company that’s producing all of the weight loss drugs, they have 80% of the weight loss drugs market and they’ve shamelessly said in their marketing that this is their drive to increase… That it’s to create a sense of urgency for the medical management of obesity. And here it is, this is where it bleeds, because they’re telling us this bullshit that it’s going to reduce stigma. No, it’s going to create eugenics. This is hideous what’s happening here and I can’t believe that the world didn’t stop and that the front page of newspapers aren’t saying like get fucked, like get these kids back. There’s no outrage.

0:24:04.2 NL: No, there is none whatsoever. We got just over 2,000 people supporting the petition and as grateful as I am for that, that’s just what the fuck, that’s 2,000 people who live in a country of 68 million and only 2,000 people had something to say about this and, we… That’s how much we hate fat kids and how much we hate fat people. We just don’t see them as worthy and nobody wants to defend this young girl, nobody sort of feels sorry for her and I just… I can’t get my head around this whole thing. It’s funny because I didn’t really know about it, a year ago I was completely clueless. It’s all happened rather quickly for me that I’ve begun to understand Haze and begun to understand who Novo Nordisk was and what they are doing and what Semaglutide actually is and how it’s going to completely change the world as we know it.

0:24:56.5 NL: I think this particular drug is going to become part of popular culture in the same way that Viagra is, we use that word now in novels and in movies. It’s so popular and so understood, nobody talks about… I don’t know, give me a name of any drug, like some blood pressure medication, they don’t talk about it in the same way they talk about Viagra. But Semaglutide is going to be that next drug because they have tapped into this incredibly large population of people who are desperate to lose weight and they’ve got this medication that was originally used to treat diabetes, just like Viagra was originally used to treat blood pressure and have said, “Wow, look at this amazing side effect. It makes people lose weight as long as you run it. Let’s market this.” And the FDA approved it. I mean, no…

0:25:45.1 Louise: I know.

0:25:45.8 NL: No thought as to whether or not this drug is gonna have a massive impact on people in their insulin resistance and whether they’re gonna develop diabetes down the line. I don’t think they care. I don’t think anybody actually cares. I think it’s just that everybody is happy, woo-hoo, another way to treat fat people and make a good deal of money out of it.

0:26:03.9 Louise: Right? So, Semaglutide is… It’s the latest weight loss drug to be approved by the FDA from Novo Nordisk and it is like the Mark II. So, they were selling Saxenda, Saxenda’s here in Australia, they’re pushing it out and this Semaglutide is like the Mark II, like I think of Saxenda as like Jan Brady, and Semaglutide is like Marcia.

[laughter]

0:26:29.3 Louise: ‘Cause it’s like, “Oh my God, look at Semaglutide. Look at this amazing one year trial.” [laughter] Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, like oh my God, we can make so much weight loss happen from this intervention. Why? Why do we need all of this weight loss, all these percentages? And, “Oh, we can lose 15% and 20%,” and we don’t need to for health, but okay.

0:26:53.3 NL: Yeah. The other thing that we have to remember about it, I don’t think it’s actually that much better. I’ve used all of these drugs in treating diabetes. So many years, I used these drugs. The beauty of it, of course, is that it’s a tablet, and Saxenda is an injection. I’m assuming you have the injectable form, yeah?

0:27:09.9 Louise: That’s right. You have to inject, and it’s very expensive.

0:27:14.0 NL: It’s extremely expensive, as will… Marcia Brady will be more expensive, I’m sure.

0:27:18.6 Louise: So high maintenance. [chuckle]

0:27:20.2 NL: Absolutely, but she is easier to administer. A lot of people don’t like the idea of injecting themselves, but taking a tablet is dead easy. So, that’s what makes this special, as it were, because it’s the only one of that whole family that is oral, as opposed to injectable.

0:27:37.6 Louise: Well, that’s interesting, because the paper with all of the big, shiny weight loss was injectable, it wasn’t tablet.

0:27:43.7 NL: Oh, really? Oh, but they’re marketing it as the oral version, definitely. That’s the one that’s got approved. It’s brand name is…

0:27:51.3 Louise: Wegovy.

0:27:52.2 NL: Oh no, well, I have a completely different brand name. Is it different, maybe, in Australia?

0:27:57.1 Louise: Well, this is in America. In Australia, they haven’t cornered us yet. I’m sure that they’re trying to do it, but it was the FDA approval for Wegovy, [0:28:05.4] ____.

0:28:05.9 NL: So, they obviously changed the name. That’s not the same one we use in diabetes. Clearly, they’ve had to revamp it a bit. Irrespective of oral, injectable, whatever, I think that this is going to… Novo Nordisk is sitting on a gold mine, and they know it. And it’s going to change our lives, I think, because bariatric surgery is quite a big thing, and it’s something that often people will say, “I’m not keen on doing.” And the uptake is quite low still, and so, in bariatric…

0:28:35.2 Louise: In the UK, not here.

0:28:36.2 NL: Yeah, [chuckle] yeah, but bariatric surgeons are probably very afraid right now, because there’s drugs coming along and taking all of their business away from them.

0:28:43.5 Louise: Actually, you know what Novo were doing? They’re partnering with the bariatric surgeons.

0:28:46.2 NL: Of course they are.

0:28:46.9 Louise: And they’re saying to them, “Hey, let’s use your power and kudos, and our drugs can help your patients when they start to regain.”

0:28:56.4 NL: Oh my gosh.

0:28:58.0 Louise: It’s literally gateway drug. Once you start using a drug to reduce your weight, you have medicalized your weight, and it’s a small upsell from there. So, I think this is all part of a giant marketing genius that is Novo Nordisk. But I’m interested to hear your concerns, ’cause I’m concerned as well with the use of diabetes drugs as weight loss medications, and I read about it being that they’re hoping that people will take this drug like we take statins. So, everyone will take it preventatively for the rest of their lives. What’s the long-term impact, do you think, of taking a double dose of a diabetes drug when you don’t have diabetes?

0:29:43.5 NL: Well, first of all, they don’t know. Nobody knows, because they’ve only done a study for a year, and just how many diet drugs have we put out there into the universe since the 1970s, and then taken them back a few years later, ’cause we’ve gone, “Oh, this kills”? If you’ve got diabetes and you take this drug because you’ve got insulin resistance and this drug helps you to combat your insulin resistance in the way that it works, you’ve already got diabetes. And so, there is no risk of you developing diabetes, and this drug does work, and so, I have no issue with the GLP-1 analogs in their use in diabetes. I think all the diabetes drugs are important, and I’m not an expert. But you’ve really got to ask yourself, if you take a healthy body and you act on a system within the pancreas and within the body, in a healthy, essentially, healthy body, healthy pancreas, you’ve got to ask yourself if it’s going to worsen insulin resistance over time. It’s actually going to lead to increased cases of diabetes. Now, they say it won’t, but…

0:30:47.4 Louise: How do they know that? ‘Cause I’ve read a study by Novo, sponsored, in rats, that showed that it did lead to insulin resistance long-term.

0:30:57.6 NL: Right, I think common sense, because we understand that the way that the body works, just common sense. The way the body works suggests to me that over long periods of time, taking this medication in a healthy person is going to lead to increased insulin resistance, which in turn will lead to diabetes. That is what common sense dictates. But of course, as you said, we don’t know. We don’t have a study. Nobody has looked into this. And it makes me sad that we are using a drug to treat a condition that isn’t a condition.

0:31:30.2 Louise: I know, yeah. [chuckle]

0:31:32.4 NL: And inadvertently, potentially giving people a whole…

0:31:36.0 Louise: Creating a condition.

0:31:36.6 NL: Creating an actual medical condition, which we all know to be life-threatening if untreated. And so, I cannot fathom why… Well, I can, I understand. It’s for financial reasons only, but I can’t understand why there are doctors out there that want to prescribe this. This is the issue that I have. I’m a doctor, and I can’t speak on behalf of drug companies or politicians or anyone else, but I can speak to what doctors are supposed to be doing, and we have a very strong code of conduct that we have to abide by. We have ethical and moral principles and legal obligations to our patients. And so, doing no harm and doing what is in your patients’ best interest, and practising fairly and without discrimination, and giving people… Allowing them to make an informed choice where they are aware of the risks and the side effects and all the different treatment options.

0:32:28.0 NL: When it comes to being fat, again, it seems to have gone out the window. None of these things are happening. We wouldn’t dream of addressing other issues this way, it’s just fatness, because it’s just so commonly, widely accepted that fatness is bad and you’ve got to do whatever you can to get rid of it. I’ve had someone tell me today that they are pregnant with their first child and they had their first conversation with the anesthetist, who told them they had to do whatever they could to lose weight before they had their baby. This is a pregnant woman.

0:32:58.1 Louise: Whatever they had to do?

0:33:00.1 NL: Whatever they had to do, and she said, “What do you want me to do, buy drugs off the streets?” And the anesthetist said… Wait for it. The anesthetist said, “It would be safer for you to use a Class A drugs than it would for you to be fat in pregnancy”. The anesthetist said that to this woman. She told me this and I just went “Please just… Can you just report him?”

0:33:21.7 Louise: Shut the front door, Jesus Christ!

0:33:24.6 NL: Can you imagine? First of all, that’s not true. Second of all, he is saying that it is better to be a drug addict than to be a fat person. This is no judgment on drug addicts, but you do not encourage your patients to use Class A drugs to lose weight. That’s stupid. Imagine if he’d said that about anything else, but in his… And it was a man, in his world, for whatever reason, his ethics just abandons them all in favor of fat shaming a woman.

0:33:52.4 Louise: This is where we’re at with, it’s self examined. It’s like there’s a massive black hole of stigma just operating unchallenged effortlessly and actually growing, thanks to this massive marketing department, Novo. It’s terrify… That poor lady, I’m so glad she’s found you and I hope she’s not gonna go down the Class A drug route.

[laughter]

0:34:19.3 NL: She’s definitely not, but she was quite traumatized. She’s on a Facebook group that I started and it’s great because it’s 500 people who are just so supportive of each other and it was within a few minutes 50 comments going “What a load of crap, I can’t believe this,” “You’re great, this doctor is terrible”. But it just stuck to me that one of my colleagues would dare, would have the audacity to do something as negligent as that. And I’m gonna call it what it is. That’s negligence. But I’m seeing it all the time. I’m seeing it in healthcare, I’m seeing it in Social Services, I’m seeing it in schools, I’m seeing it in the workplace, I’m seeing it everywhere. You cannot escape it. And as a fat person, who was in the morbidly, super fat, super obese stage where she’s just basically needs to just be put down like a…

0:35:16.3 Louise: Oh my gosh, it’s awful.

0:35:18.5 NL: And as that person, I hear all of these things and I just think “I’m actually a fairly useful member of society, I’ve actually never been ill, never required any medication, managed to give birth to my children, actually to be fair, they had to come out my zip as opposed to through the tunnel.” But that wasn’t because I was fat, that was because they were awkward. But this anesthetist telling this woman that she’s too fat to have a baby. I was just like “But I am the same weight. I am the same BMI as you”. And I had three and I had no problems with my anesthetics. In fact after my third cesarean section, I walked out the hospital 24 hours later, happy as Larry, didn’t have any problems. And I know people who were very, very thin that had a massive problems after their cesarean. So there’s not even evidence to show how dangerous it is to have a BMI over 35 and still… And then caught when it comes to an anesthetic. This isn’t even evidence-based, it’s just superstition at this point.

0:36:12.8 Louise: It’s a biased based and the guidelines here in Australia, so I think above 35 women are advised to have a cesarean because it’s too dangerous. And women are not allowed to give birth in rural hospitals, they have to fly to major cities. So imagine all of… And don’t even get me started on bias in medical care for women. It’s everywhere, like you said, and it’s unexamined and all of this discrimination in the name of, apparently, healthcare. It’s scary.

0:36:43.9 NL: It really is. Gosh, you’ve got me fired up, it’s almost 1:00 in the morning and I’m fired up. I’m never gonna get to sleep now.

[laughter]

0:36:51.7 Louise: Okay, I don’t wanna tell you this, but I will. ‘Cause we’re talking about how on earth is this possible, like why aren’t there any medical experts involved to talk about this from a scientific basis, and I’m worried that even if they did have medical people in the court, they wouldn’t have actually stuck up for the kid. I found this JAMA article from 2011. It’s a commentary on whether or not large kids should be removed from their families, and it was supportive of that.

0:37:18.0 NL: Oh gosh. Of course it was.

0:37:22.0 Louise: And in response to that commentary, the medpage, which is a medical website, a newsletter kind of thing. They did a poll of health professionals asking should larger kids removed from their families, and 54% said yes.

0:37:40.7 NL: Of course.

0:37:41.3 Louise: I know. Isn’t that dreadful? One comment on that said “It seems to me the children in a home where they have become morbidly obese might be suffering many other kinds of abuse as well, viewing in the size of a child. ‘Cause we’ve all gotten bigger since the ’80s. We’re a larger population and viewing that as abuse and as a fault of parenting. Unbelievable. I also had a little dig around Australia, ’cause it’s not isolated in the UK, there’s so many more cases.

0:38:16.9 NL: They have. Yeah.

0:38:17.8 Louise: And I think actually in the UK, it might be a lot more common than in Australia.

0:38:22.1 NL: Yeah, I can believe that.

0:38:23.5 Louise: But it did happen here in 2012, there was some report of two children being removed from their families because of the size of the kids. And the media coverage was actually quite dreadful. I’ll put in the show notes, this article, and the title is “Victorian authorities remove obese children, removed from their parents”. So even the title is wrong, couldn’t even get their semantics right. There’s a picture, you can imagine what picture would accompany…

0:38:55.2 NL: Well of course it can’t be of the actual children, because I think it leads to lawsuit. I’m assuming it’s a belly. Is there a belly? Is there a fat person in it or a fat child eating a burger?

0:39:06.2 Louise: Yes. [laughter]

0:39:07.1 NL: Sorry, it’s either the belly or the fat person eating the burger. So, a fat child eating the burger, sorry.

0:39:11.9 Louise: Helpfully, to help the visually impaired, the picture had caption and the caption reads “Overweight brother and sister sitting side by side on a sofa eating takeaway food and watching the TV.” So not at all stereotyped, very sensitive, nuanced article this one. And then we hear from Professor John Dixon, who is a big part of obesity Inc here in Australia. He told the ABC that “Sometimes taking children away from their parents is the best option.” In the same article, he also admits “There’s no services available that can actually help kids lose weight”, and he says that it’s not the parents fault. Helpfully, this article also states that “Obesity is the leading cause of illness and death in Australia.”

[laughter]

0:39:58.7 NL: I love it when I hear that. How have they figured that out? What do they do to decide that? Where does this…

0:40:08.4 Louise: They don’t have to provide any actual evidence.

0:40:10.5 NL: Right. They just say it.

0:40:12.1 Louise: Got it.

0:40:13.0 NL: Just say it.

0:40:14.4 Louise: Diet. And I checked just to make sure, ’cause in case I’ve missed anything.

0:40:18.4 NL: Yeah.

0:40:19.6 Louise: The top five causes of death in Australia in 2019; heart disease, number two dementia, number three stroke, number four malignant neoplasm of trachea bronchus and lung.

0:40:30.4 NL: Lung cancer.

0:40:30.9 Louise: Lung cancer.

0:40:31.5 NL: That’s lung cancer.

0:40:32.3 Louise: And number five chronic lower respiratory disease.

0:40:38.4 NL: So translation. Heart attacks, dementia… In the UK it’s actually dementia first, then heart attacks. So dementia, heart attacks, stroke, same thing in the UK, and then lung cancer and COPD. Both of those are smoking-related illnesses. And I can say quite safely that they are smoking-related illness because the chance of developing lung cancer or COPD if you haven’t smoked is minuscule. So what the people are doing is they’re saying, “Well, we can attribute all of these heart attacks and strokes and dementia to “obesity”. And the way we can do that is we just look at all these people that have died, and if they are fat we’ll just assume it’s their fat that caused their heart disease.

0:41:20.0 NL: To make it very clear to everybody that is listening, if you have a BMI of 40, we can calculate your risk of developing a heart attack or a stroke over the next 10 years using a very sophisticated calculator actually, it’s been around for some time. It’s what we use in the UK. I’m assuming Australia has a similar one, don’t know what it’s called there. In the UK it’s called a QRISK. So I’ve done this. I have calculated. I have found a woman, I called her Jane. I gave her a set of blood pressure and cholesterol, and I filled in a template. And then I gave her a BMI of 20. And then I gave her a BMI of 40. And I calculated the difference in her risk. I calculated the difference in her risk, and the difference in her risk was exactly 3%. The difference in her risk if she was a smoker was 50%. She was 50% more likely to have a heart attack if she was a smoker, but only 3% more likely to have a heart attack if she had a BMI of 40 instead of a BMI of 25.

0:42:15.0 NL: To put it into perspective, she was significantly more likely to have a heart attack if she was a migraine sufferer, if she had a mental health condition, if she had lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, if she was Asian, if she was a man, and all of those things dramatically increased her risk more than having a BMI of 40. So it’s just very important that doctors will admit, ’cause it’s about admitting to a simple fact, this calculator we use to predict people’s risks. So if we know that weight only has a 3-4% impact on our cardiovascular risk as opposed to smoking which has a 50% impact, as opposed to aging which is why most people die because they get old and let’s face it everybody dies some time.

0:43:04.0 NL: So what’s happening is the… Whoever they are, are taking all these deaths from heart disease which was likely caused by the person aging, by the person being male or just being old and being over the age of 75, your risk of heart disease goes up massively irrespective of your weight. So instead of saying, “Well, it’s just heart disease”, they’ve gone, “Well, it’s heart disease in a fat person and therefore it was the fatness that caused the heart disease.” And that is offensive to me to the point that now, I have heard… And this is awful in this year, our patients that are dying of COVID, if they die of COVID in the UK, it’s actually quite heart breaking, it’s happened to someone that I was close to. If they die of COVID in the UK, and they happen to be fat, the doctor writes “obesity” on their death certificate…

0:43:51.8 Louise: No way.

0:43:52.4 NL: As a cause of death. They died of COVID.

0:43:55.2 Louise: What?

0:43:55.5 NL: They died of COVID. That’s what they died of. They died of this terrible virus that is killing people in their droves but people are under the misguided impression that being fat predisposes you to death from COVID, which is not true. It’s not true. That is a complete gross misrepresentation of the facts. But we’ve now got doctors placing that on a person’s death certificate. Can you imagine how that family feels? Can you imagine what it feels like to get this death certificate saying, “Your family member is dead from COVID but it’s their fault ’cause they were obese.” And how can the doctor know? How could the doctor know that?

0:44:34.2 Louise: How can they do that?

0:44:35.6 NL: How can they do that? And this is my point, this doctor that’s turning around and saying it’s safer for children to be removed from their loving home. Obviously, this person has no idea of the psychological consequences of being removed from your family. But it’s safer for that person to be removed from their home than to remain in their home and remain fat. What will you achieve? Is this person going to lose weight? No. I can tell you what this person is going to do. This person is going to develop…

0:44:58.9 Louise: They even say that. They even say that in the transcripts. We don’t think that they’ll get any more supervision.

0:45:03.1 NL: Yeah. In fact, we’re gonna get less supervision because it’s not a loving parent. You’re going to develop, most likely an eating disorder. You’re going to develop serious psychological scars. That trauma is going to lead to mental health problems down the line. And chances are you’re just gonna get bigger. You’re not gonna get smaller because we know that 95% of people who lose weight gain it all back again. We know that two-thirds of them end up heavier. We know that the more you diet, the heavier you’re gonna get. And that actually, this has been shown to be like a dose-response thing in some studies. So the more diets you go on, the higher your weight is going to get. If you don’t diet ever in your life, chances are you’re not gonna have as many weight problems later on down the line. So, as you’re saying, we are living in a society that’s got fatter. And there’s lots of reasons for that. It’s got to do with the food that we’re eating now. That we’re all eating. That we’re all consuming.

0:45:55.1 Louise: Food supply. Only some of us will express from there the epigenetic glory of becoming higher weight.

0:46:02.0 NL: Right. And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Genetics, hormones, trauma, medications. How many people do I know that are on psychiatric medications and have gained weight as a result, Clozapine or… It’s just what’s gonna happen. You name it. Being female, having babies, so many things will determine your weight.

0:46:21.0 Louise: Getting older. We’re allowed to get… We’re supposed to get bigger as we get older.

0:46:25.1 NL: And then you know that actually, there are so many studies nowadays, so many studies that we’ve labeled it now that show that actually being fat can be beneficial to you. There’s studies that show that if you end up in ICU with sepsis, you’re far more likely to survive if you’re fat. If you’ve got a BMI over 30, you’re more likely to survive. There’s studies that show that if you have chronic kidney disease and you’re on dialysis, the chances of you surviving more long-term are significantly higher if you’re fat. Heart failure, kidney disease, ICU admissions, in fact, even after a heart attack, there’s evidence to show that you’re more likely to survive if you’re fat. And they call this the obesity paradox. We have to call it a paradox because we cannot, for one moment, admit that actually there’s a possibility that being fat isn’t all that bad for you in the first place and we got it wrong. Rather than admit that we got it wrong, we’ve labeled a paradox because we have to be right here, we have to…

0:47:18.0 Louise: Yeah, it’s like how totally bad and wrong, except in certain rare, weird conditions, as opposed to, “Let’s just drop the judgment and look at all of this much less hysterically.”

0:47:29.5 NL: Yeah. And studies have shown that putting children on a diet, talking about weight, weight-shaming them, weighing them, any of these things, have been linked to and have been demonstrated to cause disordered eating and be a serious risk for direct factor for weight gain. And that, in my opinion, is the important thing to remember in this particular case, because as I said, social services start in weight-shaming, judging, and talking about weight when these children were three and six, and they did that for 10 years. And in doing so, they are responsible for the fact that these children went on to gain weight, because that’s what the evidence shows. And there’s no question about this evidence, there’s multiple papers to back it up.

0:48:14.1 NL: There’s an article published in Germany in 2016, there was an article published last year by the University of Cambridge, and even the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees that talking about weight, putting children on a diet, in fact, even a parent going on a diet is enough to damage that child and increase their risk of developing disordered eating patterns and weight gain.

0:48:37.9 NL: And so, as far as I’m concerned, that to me, is evidence enough to say that it’s actually social services that should be in front of a judge, not these children, but it’s the social workers that should be held to account. And I have written… And this is something that is very important to say. I wrote to the council, the local authority, and I’ve written a very long letter, I’ve published it on my website. You can read it anytime, anyone can read it. And I wrote to them and I said, “This is the evidence. Here are all the links. As far as I’m concerned, you guys got it terribly wrong and you have demonstrated that there is a high degree of weight bias that is actually causing damage to children. I am prepared to come and train you for free and teach all of your social workers all about weight bias, weight stigma, and to basically dispel the myths that obviously are pervading your social work department.” And they ignored me. I wrote to politicians in the area. They ignored me. I wrote to a counselor who’s a member of my political party, who just claimed, “Yeah, I’ll look into it for you.” Never heard from her again. Yeah, nobody cares.

0:49:44.0 Louise: It’s just such a lack of concern.

0:49:45.7 NL: I didn’t even do it in a critical way. I had to do it in a kind of, “I will help you. Let me help you. I’m offering my services for free. I do charge, normally, but I’ll do it for free for you guys.” No one is interested. Nobody wants to know. And that makes me really sad, that they weren’t even willing to hear me out.

0:50:03.0 Louise: I can’t believe they didn’t actually even answer you.

0:50:06.5 NL: Didn’t answer me, didn’t respond to any of my messages, none of the counselors, none of the… Nobody has responded, and I’ve tried repeatedly.

0:50:14.4 Louise: So, this is in West Sussex, yeah?

0:50:16.7 NL: That’s right, West Sussex, that’s right.

0:50:18.0 Louise: You know what’s weird about that? I’ve actually attended a wedding at that council, that my ex-father-in-law got married there. And when I saw the picture there, I’m like, “Oh my God, I’ve actually been there.” So, I had a poke, and I don’t know if you know this, but hopefully, in the future, when those children, C and D, finally decide to sue the council, that they can use this as evidence. There is a report from a… It’s called a commissioner’s progress report on children services in West Sussex from October 2020, which details how awful the service has been for the past few years, and huge issues with how they’re running things. And it says, “Quite fragile and unstable services in West Sussex.” So, this family who’ve had their kids removed were being cared for by a service with massive problems, are being referred to programs that don’t work, and that there’s a massive miscarriage of justice.

0:51:17.3 NL: And I’m glad you’re talking about it, and I’m glad we’re talking about it. And I wish that we had the platform to talk about it more vocally. I’d want to be able to reach out to these… To see patients… They’re not patients, child C and D. I want to be able to reach out to mum as well, and say…

0:51:36.3 Louise: I just wanna land in Sussex and just walk around the street saying, “Where are you? I wanna help.”

0:51:40.2 NL: “Where are you? And let me hug you.” And I’m very interest to know, I’d be very interested to know the ethnic origin of these young people.

0:51:48.9 Louise: And the socio-economic status of these people.

0:51:50.2 NL: Socio-economic status, 100%. I would very much like to know that. That would make a huge… I think that I can guess, I’m not going to speculate, but I had a very lovely young woman contact me from a… She was now an adult, but she had experienced this as a child. She had been removed from her home and was now an adult, and she had been in foster care, in social services, for a few years, and had obviously contact with her mum but hadn’t been reunited with her mum ever. So it wasn’t like it was for a time and then she went back. And we talked about this. She was in a London borough, I shall not name the borough, but I know for a fact that her race would’ve played a role in this, because she was half-Black, half-Turkish.

0:52:39.2 NL: And there’re a few things in that court transcript that caught my attention. I don’t know if you noticed there was a mention of the smell from the kitchen, and they didn’t specifically said, you know, mould, or you know that there was mould in the kitchen, or there was something in the kitchen that was rotting, something like that, ’cause I think they would have specified. It was just a smell. And that made me wonder, is this to do with just the fact that maybe this family lived in poor housing or was it the type of food that they were cooking for their children? Is there a language issue, is there a cultural issue. What exactly is going on? ’cause we don’t know that from the court transcript, so that’s another thing that… Another piece of the puzzle that I would really be interested in. Is this a white wealthy family? Probably not. I don’t think they are.

0:53:27.2 Louise: Yeah it didn’t struck me that way either. Yeah, yeah this is potentially marginalization and racism happening that…

0:53:35.1 NL: Yeah.

0:53:35.9 Louise: And here in Australia, we’ve got an awful history of how we treated First Nations people and we removed indigenous kids from their families, on the basis of like we know better, and I just… Yeah honestly, elements of that here, like we know better.

0:53:51.5 NL: Yes. Right, this is it. We know better than you have to parent your child. I am have always been a big believer of not restricting my children’s feed in any way. I was restricted, and I made the decision when we had the kids that there would just be no restriction at all. I have like been one of those parents that had just been like, that’s the draw with all the sweet treats in it. They’re not called treats, they’re just sweets and chocolate and candy, there it is. It’s within reachable distance. Help yourself whenever you want, ice pops in the freezer, there’s no like you have to eat that to get your pudding. None of that.

0:54:27.6 NL: My kids have just been able to eat whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, I never restricted anything, I wanted them to be intuitive eaters. And of course they are, and what amazes me is now my teenage son, when we were on lockdown, and he was like homeschooled, he would come downstairs, make himself a breakfast, and there was like three portions of fruit and veg on his plate, and not because someone told him that he had to, but just because he knew it was good for him and he knew it was healthy, there was like a selection, his plate was always multi-colored, he was drinking plenty of water. He would go and cook it, he cooked himself lunch, he knew that he can eat sweets and crisps and chocolate whenever he wanted to, and he didn’t, he just didn’t. Like it was there, that drawn, it gets emptied out because it’s become a bit… But no, they don’t take it, and sometimes they do, ’cause they fancy it, but most of the times they don’t. And that is my decision as a parent, I believe that I have done what is in their best interest, I believe that I will prove over time that this has had a much better impact on their health, not restricting them.

0:55:26.4 Louise: Absolutely, Yeah.

0:55:27.6 NL: But the point is they’re my children, and it was my damn choice, and even if my child is on the 98th percentile, it’s still my damn choice, nobody gets to tell me how to parent my child. That is my child, I know what’s best for them. And I believe that my children are going to prove the fact that this is a great way of parenting, and I know that actually most of their friends who had, were not allowed to eat the food that they wanted to eat used to come over to our house and just kind of like wide eyed. And they binge, they binge, you know, to the point that I have to restrict them and say I actually I don’t think mom would like that if I gave that to you.

0:56:00.0 Louise: We know that that’s what we do when we put kids in food deserts, we breed binge eating and food insecurity, and trying to teach our kids to have a relaxed and enjoyable relationship with food is what intuitive eating is all about. And without a side salad of fat phobia, we’re not doing this relationship with food stuff in order to make sure you’re thin, we’re doing this to make sure that you feel really safe and secure in the world, and you know health is sometimes controllable and sometimes not, and this kind of mad obsession we have with controlling our food and the ability it will give us like everlasting life is weird.

0:56:39.0 NL: Yeah.

0:56:39.7 Louise: Yeah. Gosh, I’m so glad you’re parenting those kids in that way and I’ve noticed the same thing with my kids. Like my kids, we are a family of intuitive eaters and it’s just really relaxed, and there’s variety, and they go through these little love affairs with foods, and it’s really cute. [chuckle] And they’re developing their palettes, and their size is not up to me.

0:57:05.8 NL: Yeah.

0:57:06.4 Louise: Yeah.

0:57:07.4 NL: Right.

0:57:08.1 Louise: It’s up to me to help them thrive.

0:57:10.7 NL: That’s right. And when people talk about health, I often hear people talking about health, and whenever they ask me that question, you know, surely you can agree that being fat is not good for your health, well, I’ll always kinda go, “Oh Really? Could you just do me a favor here and define health?” Because I spend my whole life trying to define health, and I’m not sure that I’ve got there yet, but I can tell you without a doubt that this for me, in my personal experience as a doctor… And I’ve been a doctor for a long time now, and I see patients all the time, and I’m telling you that in my experience, the most important thing for your health is your mental and emotional well-being, that if you are not mentally and emotionally well, it doesn’t matter how good your cholesterol is, it doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve got diabetes, that is irrelevant, because if you’re not mental and emotional… I’m not saying that ’cause you won’t enjoy life, I mean, it has an impact on your physical health. And I spend most of my day dealing with either people who are depressed or anxious, and that’s what they’ve presented with, or they’ve presented with symptoms that are being made worse or exacerbated by their mental and emotional pull, mental and emotional well-being.

0:58:19.1 NL: So giving my children the best start in life has always been about giving them a good mental and emotional well, start. It’s about giving… It’s not just teaching them resilience, but teaching them to love themselves, to be happy with who they are, to not feel judged or to not feel that they are anything other than the brilliant human beings that they are. And I believe that that is what’s going to stand them in the greatest… In the greatest… I’ve lost my words now, but that’s what’s gonna get them through life, and that’s why they’re going to be healthy. And how much sugar they eat actually is quite irrelevant compared to the fact that they love themselves and their bodies, and they are great self-esteem, we all know that happiness is… Happiness is the most important thing when it comes to quality of life and happiness is the most important thing when it comes to length of life and illness, all of it. Happiness trumps everything else.

0:59:07.0 Louise: And to you know what that comes from. Happiness comes from a sense of belonging, belonging in our bodies, belonging in ourselves, belonging in the community, and all of this othering that’s happening with the message that everyone belongs unless they’re fat. That sucks ass and that needs to stop. This poor little kid when, in the transcript it mentioned that they found a suicide note…

0:59:29.9 NL: Yes.

0:59:30.1 Louise: And some pills. And she’s fucking like 13.

0:59:34.8 NL: Yeah, and they called it a cry for help.

0:59:36.0 Louise: They called it cry for help ’cause of her body.

0:59:38.1 NL: Yeah.

0:59:38.4 Louise: They didn’t recognize it since they’ve been sniffing around threatening to take her off her mom, and because she’s being bullied for her size at school. This is like a calamitous failure to see the impact of weight stigma.

0:59:52.9 NL: She’s been told that it’s her fault that she’s been taken away from her mum. They had told her that because she didn’t succeed in losing weight, that she doesn’t get to live with her mother anymore. Can you imagine?

1:00:02.4 Louise: So her mom. I can’t even wrap my head around that. I can’t.

1:00:07.2 NL: Well, she feels suicidal, I think I would too. I felt suicidal at her age and for a lot less. It’s terrible, it’s terrible. And I hope she’s hanging on and I hope that…

1:00:14.6 Louise: I wanna tell her that she is awesome.

1:00:17.4 NL: Yes.

1:00:17.9 Louise: If she ever gets to listen to this. But I know the impact. So like when I was 11, my mom left and I remember how much it tore out my heart.

1:00:26.4 NL: Yeah.

1:00:26.9 Louise: You’re 11…

1:00:27.5 NL: Yeah.

1:00:28.3 Louise: 12, 13. This is not the time to do this to kids, and this whole idea… The judge said something like, “Oh, you know, gosh, this is gonna be bad… ” But here it is, I will read it to you. This is… She actually wrote a letter to the kids.

1:00:42.5 NL: Oh, gosh.

1:00:43.7 Louise: “I know you will feel that in making this order, that I’m taking something away from you; to be able to live with your mother in your own familiar home. But, I would like you to think that I’m giving you something; a chance to learn new ways of eating and exercise, which will benefit you for the rest of your life.”

1:01:00.8 NL: I hate that woman. I hate that judge so much.

1:01:03.5 Louise: Literally.

1:01:04.7 NL: I feel it in my gut. Do you feel it in your gut? I feel it in my stomach. It’s clenching.

1:01:07.8 Louise: I feel like vomiting. I feel like vomiting ’cause its vile. The failure… Like how dare she write that letter saying, “I know you might feel like how, of course, you would fucking feel. But I want you to really appreciate that you’ve been taught the right way to eat and not be fat.”

1:01:25.2 NL: Yeah, yeah. And of course that right way is of course we all know the wrong way anyway, so [laughter] that’s even to add insult to injury, it’s not like they put them in an intuitive eating program, is it? So yeah, you be…

1:01:38.6 Louise: I just like… I love that there are people in the world like you who will write letters, outrage letters and stat surveys, and I’m disgusted in the whole of the UK for not signing that petition. You’re taking your anger and you’re channeling it, and I love what you’re doing on social media.

1:01:55.7 NL: Thank you.

1:01:56.3 Louise: Even though you’re getting push back, of course, from the people who can’t stand to have their authority challenged.

1:02:03.1 NL: Yeah, that’s okay. I understand that. I wasn’t here to make friends and influence people. I wasn’t there to get sponsorship deals and to get lots of likes and followers. I still don’t think I understand social media, to be honest, but I wanted to be able to express something that is going on inside of me and has been going on inside of me for 20 years. And I needed to put it out there, and I needed to put it out there and take responsibility, I think, on behalf of the entire medical profession because as far as I know, there aren’t that many doctors that are doing this. To just to say to people, we’ve really let you down, we’ve massively failed you for years, for decades, we’ve let you down, we’ve done terrible, horrible things to you, and we are in the wrong, and we are part… I keep saying we are part of the problem, we are not part of solution. And we need to change. And if I make lots of enemies, but I can force people, I just force it down people’s throats until they actually have to listen to me, then I will have succeeded, and then I will pack up my bags and they I will live a nice, normal, simple life again, but…

1:03:02.8 Louise: Me too. I’m gonna become a florist when we topple diet culture.

1:03:05.7 NL: Amazing. Is that what you’re gonna do? So we’ve got to get rid of diet culture, so you can become a florist. I haven’t decided what I’m gonna do, but I like that idea. I’m allergic to flower, so that wouldn’t work for me, but I’ll think of something equally as good.

1:03:16.6 Louise: Tell us about the health professionals against weight stigma group that you started.

1:03:21.1 NL: Yeah, really early on, these people actually have supported me. So I started with just Janet, she’s the mindset nutritionist on Instagram, and she was one of the first people that came to me and just supported me and has been… Really helped me to understand about pays and intuitive eating, that’s what she does. And she was really kind and understanding and supportive, and she’s just one of the most lovely people in the world, and we started texting each other and agree from there. I said, “Hey, Janet, do you wanna form a little group? Let’s form a little group, shall we?” And she said, “Yeah, great, who should we get on board?” And then we started sort of asking around and people we knew, just friends and friends, and we are now six of us coming from different places. One is a PT; Amy is a PT. Nicola is a fertility coach and is amazing, and knows everything there is to know about fertility; positive fertility.

1:04:12.2 Louise: Oh, yes, yes.

1:04:12.8 NL: Yeah, she’s fantastic. Karen’s a beautiful artist, but also doing a Master’s in… Well, she’s doing it in weight stigma, that’s what her thesis is about; it’s about weight stigma, so she knows a lot about the public health side of things. And who I’ve missed. And Rachel is a physiotherapist. So we… Should I say, she sort of represents a lot of allied professionals. So we got together and we just said, let’s form a little group. We have no idea what we’re doing, none of us have done this before, but if we can collect as much lived experience, like almost like some test, like a, I just wanna collect a big ringbinder’s worth of just page after page after page of this is what is being done to me, this is what happened to me. And those lived experiences are so massively powerful because they are dumbing in a way that nothing else is. You know the GMC, the General Medical Council, the Nursing in [1:05:04.6] ____ Council, the government, whomever, Public Health England, they cannot deny a big, giant bloody stack of lived testimonial, saying, “This is what happened to me.” And I was kind of hoping… In the same way, that’s what happened with the MeToo movement.

1:05:22.1 NL: It’s what happened with a lot of different movements recently. People just came forward and told their stories, and then enough stories were told and reported on and eventually people went, “Oh, maybe we need to change the way we do things around here.” And that’s what I’m hoping that we’ll be able to do, and also to support other health professionals as well, who want to be more Hays based, who tried to learn, who are trying to figure out or who already are and just want to be able to support one another and we would like to be the people that the government call on, because right now when the government wants to ask advice, they go and call on Obesity UK or whatever charity, all these charities, so-called charities, they are funded by drug companies. They are not charities, they are biased as buck and I cannot stand them. And so we want to be the other group that gets a seat at the table that actually brings that Hays perspective into things. So that’s what we’re hoping to achieve.

1:06:13.9 Louise: That’s exactly what we’re trying to do here in Australia with HAES Australia becoming the actual grassroots go-to for lived experience as opposed to, in our advocacy branch, as opposed to things like the Obesity Collective over here, which are kind of the same type of… They’ve got that whole marketing message of it’s a chronic disease or illness or condition which requires medical management. I love that you’re doing that.

1:06:39.7 NL: We also try to do… We’d love to get involved in some more lobbying and stuff. There was a politician who wrote something on their website a few weeks ago that really pissed me off, and I went off on one on Twitter, I went on a rant on Twitter. But he was talking about weight management services, which we haven’t talked about. But in the UK, we have all of these private companies now that we commission, so local authorities will commission them to provide healthy living advice for fat kids, essentially, or adults, but in this case, children. And the politician referred to it as a charity, and it pissed me off because I knew it wasn’t a charity.

1:07:19.1 Louise: I wonder who’s behind that.

1:07:19.5 NL: Yeah, I wonder who’s behind that as well, because you go and have a look, this is a registered company that is making a profit, and I got very, very angry about the fact that this company was getting together with a whole bunch of politicians and they were making policy. Because this company isn’t invested in the well-being of children, this company is invested in profit-making, so were the drug companies that fund the charities. Everybody is funded by organisations that are trying to make money out of weight loss. There is nobody who is sat at the table talking about the opposite. People who are not interested, I’m not profiting in any way, what money have I made? I’m not making any money from peddling anything. So nobody has sat there giving the alternative option where I’m not trying to sell weight loss. And if you’re trying to legislate, if you’re trying to be fair and just and right, you have to hear both sides of the story. So I’m hoping that health professionals against weight stigma will become the other side of the story, and I know that we’re not the only group out there.

1:08:19.5 Louise: That’s so terrific though. How can people find you and join you and help you topple it?

1:08:23.6 NL: So we do have a Wix website now, and I can’t remember what it is. [laughter] I’ll have to give you the link.

1:08:29.1 Louise: I’ll put it in the show notes. [laughter]

1:08:32.2 NL: Something to do. Oh gosh, Jeanette’s gonna kill me. [chuckle] But yeah, we have a website and we’re on Instagram as @HPagainstweightstigma, so the HP is for health professionals. The most important thing you can do is share your lived experience with us. That is really ultimately the best thing you can do. But if you are a health professional that’s interested in finding out more, get in touch, we’re hoping to do some teaching and some training soon, and if you wanna get involved and actually be part of the organisation, we will bite your hand off. We are all overworked people running two or three different things at the same time, got kids at home, so if you wanna help out, be part of it, just… Yeah, the more the merrier. As long as you are in line with what we are and you don’t work for a drug company, we’ll probably say yes.

[laughter]

1:09:18.3 Louise: Oh my God, that’s so terrific. Actually, isn’t it interesting that all of these global organizations who apparently care so much about weight stigma, like Dust, like where were they when kids get removed from their families? Nowhere. In fact, the head of the World Obesity Federation who care deeply about weight stigma is Professor Bauer, Louise Bauer, who’s the head of the Fast Track Trial here in Australia who, back in 2012 when this stuff came out here in Australia, also was advocating for child services to become involved if people don’t perform well in their weight management services.

1:10:02.6 NL: What a surprise, there you go. You heard it here first, folks.

1:10:06.3 Louise: So we definitely need… We need the other side, like you said, the completely unfunded…

1:10:15.3 NL: Grassroots.

1:10:16.5 Louise: Actual grassroots, not artificial turf. Actual grass.

1:10:21.2 NL: Yeah, we’ve set up as a non-profit organisation, we didn’t plan to earn any money, no profit needed, anything that we… Any courses or whatever that we’re putting on, the money gets channeled back into this organisation to help it to grow. That is what we want. We are not interested in getting rich or famous here, we’re interested in helping people because we’ve all experienced it. That’s the thing, is that all of us have experienced weight-based discrimination and are keen to eliminate it.

1:10:49.0 Louise: I bloody love you. You’re awesome.

1:10:56.3 NL: Ditto. [laughter]

1:10:56.7 Louise: Thank you so much for a wonderful conversation. I could talk to you all day, but let’s just keep the fire going.

1:11:05.2 NL: Yes. Amazing.

1:11:06.6 Louise: Thank you. Just wow, am I right? Like me, you might feel kind of exhausted and needing to crawl under a doona after that conversation. But isn’t she awesome? The things that she needs to do, just driven by rage, I feel like she is my spirit animal. And thank you so much Natasha for everything that you’re doing and for staying up so incredibly late to have that amazing talk. So look, if you are interested in the fat doctor and everything she’s doing, and I’m sure you are, you can find her in lots and lots of places, ’cause like I said, she is everywhere, let’s have a look. Her website, fatdoctor.co.uk. On social media, on Twitter at thefatdoctorUK, and Insta @fatdoctorUK. Doctor being like the actual spelling, so D-O-C-T-O-R. And guess what? She has started a podcast, which you must listen to because it is epic, and she is talking to awesome people doing just huge amounts of pushback. It’s conveniently called The Fat Doctor Podcast, really easy to find.

1:12:11.7 Louise: So please get on there, listen to her. She’s just inspiring and doing a lot. During our conversation, we were also talking about the health professionals against weight stigma, and I’m happy to announce I’ve found the handles for that, so if you wanna look at that on Insta, it’s HPaws on Insta, and the website is weightinclusivehealthcare.com. So those are very important movements that the fat doctor is involved with, and look, we have really looked into the abyss of awfulness that can come out of weight stigma, because I can’t think of many things more horrific than kids being taken off their families because of their size, but we have also seen the formidable power of angry people who are determined to make a change not based on profit, but based on a genuine desire to make this world a better place. So get on to Natasha and everything she’s doing. And again, Natasha, you’re a spirit animal. Whether you like it or not, we’re friends for life, so thanks for an awesome conversation. That’s it for this episode of All Fired Up. Thank you everyone for bearing with that very long conversation, I hope you’re okay. Please stay safe everybody, until next time. Trust your body. Think critically, push back against diet culture. Untrap from the crap!

Resources Mentioned:

Find out more about the Fat Doctor UK here

Natasha’s blog about the kids being removed

The Court transcript (please have tissues, wine, and something to throw on hand, this is very disturbing reading)

The Commissioner’s Progress Report on Children’s Services in West Sussex

The Australian news article on the removal of Victorian children from 2012

The disturbing Medpage poll in which more than half of the physicians surveyed thought that fat kids should be removed from their families