21 October 2010

LighterLife: was Lucy Prince a casualty?

Do you really think that replacing your meals with a sachet of powder is the best thing to do for your health? Ever wondered what might happen if, for example, you were drinking powdered milkshakes instead of food, under the mistaken fantasy that this supplies all your nutritional needs, and your potassium levels dropped? This is what happened to Lucy Prince, who has just died.

Was Lucy another LighterLife casualty? None of the news reports online mention the name of the very low calorie diet she was following, only that she had replaced meals with powdered shakes. That sounds like LigherLife to me, though it could also be the Tony Ferguson Weight Loss Programme and Diet Plan, currently getting the heavy sell from Boots, or any number of other very low calorie diets on the market. I wonder why the name of the product that probably contributed to Lucy Prince's death was left out of reports?

Samantha Clowes, Jacqueline Henson and Matilda Callaghan are three women who have died in the last couple of years who were also LighterLife customers. LighterLife refutes claims that there is any connection between their deaths, these women died because they were 'morbidly obese', or had pre-existing health problems. Even though there is evidence to the contrary, fatness is regarded as a an expressway to an early death within current medical thinking, which means that there is little impetus to establish a correlation between very low calorie diets and mortality.

Companies such as LighterLife have a financial interest in developing obesity research which ultimately helps them sell product. They do this with the help of various health professionals and organisations such as the National Obesity Forum and TOAST (remember them?). This means that independent research on the relationship between very low calorie diets and mortality in fat people is even less likely.

This is a terrible situation. How many more women, who just happen to be doing LighterLife or its equivalents, are going to die until these dangerous diets are outlawed? Yeah, I'm angry about this, aren't you?


Dee said...

Yes. Yes I am. WHY does this shit go on virtually unquestioned, decade after decade? Fat people's lives regarded as worthless; all the casualties of our body hating culture blamed on the victims. It's disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Back in my dieting days, I did this type of diet (powdered packets of protein mixed with water, or blended with ice if you were feeling frisky!). It was through a program headed by a doctor, and we were prescribed potassium to take daily, which was stressed as very important, so it would not surprise me if the diet did kill her.

Just horrible.

lilacsigil said...

I especially love the way those articles frame the late Ms Prince's weight loss as "an effort to look good on a holiday". Of course. There's absolutely no pressure on anyone to lose drastic amounts of weight, least of all from medical professionals. It's all about her vanity and doing it wrong, not an unsafe product or an unsafe paradigm.

Kate said...

Ugh, the VLCD. I honestly can't believe it doesn't kill more people.

I was on that when I developed a fairly severe autoimmune disease. I know I can't prove that one caused the other, but I believe in my heart of hearts. I felt somewhat justified when I found some old studies from the 70s that showed that a low calorie diet often excacerbated my condition.