Feeding tubes? Really?
Google "feeding tube diet" or Ketogenic Enteral Nutrition (KEN) Diet. There are a whole bunch of neutral to positive, freak show style news items. Take your pick.
You may have noticed that this weight loss diet is so incredibly embarrassing and moronic that a Google search will turn up several negative articles on the first page of results.
Canadian obesity specialist Yoni Freedhoff, who is a bit of a nutritional puritan but who helped nix the Epcot Center's crap Habit Heroes exhibition, thinks it's medical malpractice. He skewers it in a post called "Church booked? Check. Flowers? Check. Feeding Tube? Check?" Well, yeah. Sounds like medical malpractice to me too. Thanks for pointing that out.
Google News has an item called "Feeding Tube Diet? Irresponsible Doctors Condone Anorexia". The fun thing about this article is that the author clearly finds the whole thing problematic - but only when it's used by people who aren't 'morbidly obese.' For very fat people, she thinks it sounds like an excellent weight loss option.
Much as I think that Freedhoff is an okay guy for a diet doctor, I've got to say that the Yahoo article is less hypocritical than his. Don't get me wrong. I agree with everything he says about the feeding tube diet. But, this is someone who is not terribly critical of weight loss surgery. A feeding tube is less invasive than weight loss surgery and it can be removed at any time. It seems likely that the only advantage that weight loss surgery has over a permanently installed feeding tube is that it's invisible. The fact that you're tampering with your body in order to physically enforce a starvation diet isn't apparent to every single person who looks at you. But really, it's not that different. In fact, the feeding tube is not nearly as extreme and risky. It is easily reversible and does not involve the ol' slice and dice.
The feeding tube diet is marketed as a quick and easy way to lose weight. Apparently it provides 800 calories a day with no carbs, and they claim that people don't get hungry. It would be nice for the dieters if that were true, because it physically prevents them from eating. Side effects may include bad breath, constipation, dizziness, acid reflux, and nausea.
In a society that thinks weight loss surgery is a good idea, why would anyone be surprised that people want a doctor to stick a feeding tube up their noses and down their throats to provide a minimum amount of nutrition and prevent them from eating? It makes perfect sense. Not-so-fat people who love the idea of weight loss surgery but aren't eligible for it must be delighted by this new option.
I'm not surprised by it, but it is still hard for me to understand (emotionally) why someone would do this to themselves. The old "easy way out" trope doesn't fit any better than it does with weight loss surgery. This is public. It is humiliating. It is physically unpleasant and disempowering. It seems to come from a place of deep frustration and an antagonistic mind-body relationship. I keep slipping into thoughts of masochism, penance, and the mortification of the flesh. It's a self destructive (or at least risk embracing) form of self punishment. The same human impulses have found a home in religion in the past. What are those impulses acting in service of here, and why are they such a persistent part of human nature? I obviously haven't thought this all the way through, but I'm putting it out there.
A few other thoughts...
As far as I can tell, there is currently only one American doctor who is willing to insert feeding tubes for weight loss. However, this is all over the North American news. It occurs to me that:
1. All of this news coverage is free publicity for this dumb idea and it will probably spread the word to every greedy and ethically impaired doctor in North America. Coming soon: a feeding tube diet doctor in your area!
2. The news coverage sure does support the "young women are stupid, lazy and vain" trope.