CBS Blue Bloods: Shame and Misinformation About Obesity

Blue Bloods is a CBS drama series about a family of police officers in New York City. Fans appreciate the show for exploring the reality of complex moral issues. Last week the show explored the issue of fitness – i.e. obesity – and unfortunately failed to live up to its reputation.

Bottom line, the show delivered a false narrative about obesity and its treatment. It labeled a central figure in the plot as “taking an easy way out” with bariatric surgery. Characters shamed and threatened to disparage that person because of his medical history. They called bariatric surgery – falsely – a cosmetic procedure.

An Occupational Risk

Here’s the thing. Obesity is a very real occupational risk for police officers. The nature of the work makes it so. Stress, irregular sleep patterns, and long periods of sedentary activity punctuated by intensely stressful situations all contribute to the risk.

So dispensing false information about obesity and one of the most effective treatments available is no small transgression. One of the most common – and damaging – lies about surgery is that it’s “an easy way out.”

So here you have a show that people respect for its realism about police work. But it’s dispensing misinformation and shame about an important health risk of that work. It’s unconscionable.

Fans dished outrage on Twitter. Cheryl Steward said:

I think you should be ashamed at how you portrayed Gastric Bypass surgery. It’s not “the easy way out.” It’s a lifetime of change and commitment. So disappointed.

Admit the Mistake and Fix It

No doubt, the producers and writers know they’ve screwed up. So far, though, they’ve been silent. That’s wrong. It’s time to hold their head high, admit the mistake, and fix it.

Spreading lies about medical care that can be life saving for police officers is despicable. Folks, it’s time to make it right.

Click here for more on this incident.

Police, photograph © Thomas Hawk / flickr

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April 10, 2019

One Response to “CBS Blue Bloods: Shame and Misinformation About Obesity”

  1. April 10, 2019 at 10:23 am, David Brown said:

    For sure, it’s time to make something right because “So far, no country has been able to reverse the rising obesity rates — including the United States, which has been battling it for years now.” https://www.healthline.com/health-news/obesity-rising-can-we-reverse-this-deadly-trend#4

    While bariatric surgery may be the most effective weight loss tool currently available, there is another tool that involves far less risk and expense; the truth.

    In my opinion, the obesity pandemic stems from government policy decisions regarding dietary guidance and industrial farming practices. The former shapes consumer perception as to what is healthy as well as the the fatty acid profile of industrial food products. The latter shapes the fatty acid profile of animal products. For example, “We now know that major changes have taken place in the food supply over the last 100 years, when food technology and modern agriculture led to enormous production of vegetable oils high in ω-6 fatty acids, and changed animal feeds from grass to grains, thus increasing the amount of ω-6 fatty acids at the level of LA (from oils) and arachidonic acid (AA) (from meat, eggs, dairy). https://openheart.bmj.com/content/3/2/e000385

    South African researcher Annadie Krygsman writes, “The main alteration within the fatty acid profile of the modern diet has been the increased use of vegetable oil, both as a cheaper and more accessible alternative to animal fats, but also as a substitute to animal fats to reduce the intake of SFAs. Vegetable oils, although higher in monounsaturated fatty acids, are very high in omega-6 fatty acids (100-fold larger) compared with animal fat.These oils are also much lower in omega-3 fatty acids, leading to an increase in the ratio of dietary omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids.” https://www.intechopen.com/books/glucose-tolerance/importance-of-dietary-fatty-acid-profile-and-experimental-conditions-in-the-obese-insulin-resistant-

    Norwegian animal science researcher Anna Haug writes, “Chicken meat with reduced concentration of arachidonic acid (AA) and reduced ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids has potential health benefits because a reduction in AA intake dampens prostanoid signaling, and the proportion between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is too high in our diet.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2875212/

    In a 1992 Review German scientist Olaf Adam wrote, “Within the last 50 years, changing nutritional habits in Western communities led to a fourfold increase in the supply of dietary arachidonic acid (AA), provoked by the same increase in the consumption of meat and meat products. A low oxidation rate and a high affinity uptake system result in the accumulation of AA in cell lipids. Clinical experiments with AA supplements showed the efficient enrichment of AA in plasma lipids and a consecutively exaggerated production of eicosanoids. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00180737

    In a 2011 Review entitled ‘Prevent the cause, not just the symptoms’, former NIH scientist Bill Lands wrote, “Too few people recognize that nearly every cell and tissue in our body has hormone receptors that respond in different ways to omega-3 and omega-6 hormones. As a result, too many people fail to realize how many different disorders reflect an imbalance of these two types of hormone.

    To find out how many disorders are related to this omega-3/6 imbalance, Google arachidonic acid in conjunction with any mental or physical disease that comes to mind. You will find that there is a vast body of research out there that is currently being ignored. As far as I can tell, there is not a science writer anywhere in the World engaged in publicizing it.