“[Fast Track to Health Study] has become a touchpoint for overinflated concerns.”
“I’m perplexed as to why we’ve been singled out…”
“It’s not as if we’re recommending all young people should have this.”
Professor Louise Baur, Leading pediatrician, Fast Track to Health Study
“The HREC recognises that there is a risk for a young person to develop an eating disorder with exposure to restrictive diets, and in particular very restrictive diets.”
“ the risk of children developing an eating disorder is justified because of the potential for the participants to lose weight.”
Ms. Asra Gholami, Executive Officer of Research Ethics, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network
In April of 2019, after worldwide criticism and condemnation of the Fast Track to Health Study in Australia, the Study’s lead researcher, Louise Baer made the inexplicable decision to throw gasoline on an already hotly burning fire. In a brief interview given to the publication, “ausdoc.com,” Ms. Baer expressed being perplexed as to why this study was being singled out. Some of her remarks are set forth above.
In response, in the United States there are a few colloquial phrases which immediately come to mind: “low hanging fruit; piece of cake; easy as falling off a log; shooting fish in a barrel; teeing it up.”
Ms. Baur, Socrates is credited with saying, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” More recently, in the HBO’s hit series, “Game of Thrones,” the mantra, “You know nothing Jon Snow,” was repeatedly uttered. So, let us help escort you down the path of enlightenment and give you some possible answers as to the reasons why you, your feckless colleague Ms. Gholami and your hair-brained study are being “singled out.”
First, for some reason Ms. Gholami, your Executive Officer over Research Ethics opined that the risk of children developing an eating disorder, a deadly, misunderstood, widely misdiagnosed disease, was justified because of the potential of weight loss. Really? And yet, we will come back to that issue.
The following are just some of the reasons why “you are being singled out for criticism:”
- You acknowledged the risks and limitations of the study in correspondence with health professionals, but you were not going to pass on this information to the parents when signing their child up for the study (That is called failure to disclose a known risk);
- Twenty-nine (29) health experts from Australia and the United States initially expressed concern that your study was not safe nor effective for children;
- Subsequently, additional medical experts and counselors issued a report condemning your study. Their report included the statement: “The “Fast Track” trial induces participants to behave in a way that mimics Anorexia Nervosa (AN) (severe restriction of calories), placing them in considerable risk of going on to develop AN, Bulimia Nervosa (hyperphagia with or without purging), or Binge Eating Disorder (hyperphagia);”
- The Australia & New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders issued a statement stating that it did not support your study;
- A world wide petition condemning your study was signed by over 21,000 people;
- The international eating disorder parent support group, F.E.A.S.T. condemned your study on a number of grounds;
- Two (2) ethical complaints have been filed against your study;
- The advocacy group, Eating Disorders Families Australia released a statement condemning the study and requesting that it be stopped;
- HAES(“Health at Every Size”) Australia endorsed the ethics complaints, condemned the study and issued its statement of condemnation;
- The Academy for Eating Disorders, the world’s largest eating disorder organization issued a statement not supporting the study and requesting that it be stopped;
- Your study cannot and will not ever be duplicated anywhere else in the world because of the inherent risks to the children and the fact that this study is not being conducted under laboratory conditions, utilizing control groups under the daily supervision of medical and treatment professionals;
- Your “mitigation strategies” initially did not even include a clinical psychologist to review “the young people.”
To further help place things in perspective, this site identifies issues with the study, the concerns of professionals and other persons and details the risks.
A criminal lack of disclosure, lack of adequate supervision over the children in the study, lack of supervision over the testing process, world-wide condemnation, lack of the ability to duplicate the study’s processes, failure to identify all medical personnel who approved this study, concealing the identities of the so-called experts who knowingly participated in the initial decision not to inform the parents of all known risks and finally, exposing children to a known and dangerous disease.
And if these are not good enough reasons supporting condemnation, then let us address another reason.
“The risk of children developing an eating disorder is justified.”
Your Executive Officer over Research Ethics obviously requires enlightenment as to the deadly nature of eating disorders. And so, let us commence.
Eating disorders do not kill quickly nor mercifully. Only after years of having your bodily organs compromised and wracked with damage does the spectre of death finally appear at your bedside. Only after years of isolation from friends and family, years of taking you off of your life’s journey, years of physical, mental and emotional pain do eating disorders finally and almost reluctantly give way to the harbinger of death.
The disease has taken away the luster of your hair, your body emaciated to the point where you resemble a World War II concentration camp survivor, the shining light reflected in your eyes being taken away and replaced with a dull lens. And one by one, your body’s precious organs begin to shut down.
You lay back in your hospital bed, in physical agony, as the hospital staff wonders if you are “playing up your pain” because of your perceived dependence on pain medication. Your stomach, screaming in agony. Your compromised heart trying to beat its life giving blood to your permanently damaged organs. The synapses in your brain impinged and faulty. Your parents can only sit by helplessly, praying for a miracle and fearing that at long last, the end has come for their beloved child.
The parent then hears the two words that chill them to their very core, “Code Blue!” goes screaming over the public address system in the hospital as doctors and nurses run to your beloved child’s room. Your child is dead. The medical personnel frantically perform resuscitation on your child. Each passing second that your beloved child is “medically dead” seems like a lifetime. And if you are lucky, those medical professionals bring back to life, your beloved child.
You are then wheeled to the Intensive Care Unit. And even as the icy-cold fingers of overwhelming fear grips your throat, as a parent, a small spark of hope lingers in your heart. Until, two additional times, you are forced to endure hell on earth as two more “Code Blues” scream out over the hospital P.A. system. Bells screeching in alarm. Each time, for your beloved child. The lead doctor over the ICU wing then comes to you and says each time it is more difficult, after your child is brought back, each time her bodily responses become more faint, that her brain activity is stopping. Each time, more damage is being done to her body. That the end is near. With your child’s life signs all but extinguished, you make the most difficult decision of your life.
And you sit in a lonely room in agony, holding your beloved child’s hand, kissing her brow. Waiting. Praying. This time when your beloved child’s heart stops, there are no bells. There are no screeching alarms, no doctors nor nurses running frantically into the room. The doctor monitoring her heart beat and brain activity finally, mournfully looks at you and very quietly says the two words that complete a parent’s descent into total darkness … “She’s gone.” And life as you have known it, will never be the same.
If and when your study results in even one child contracting an eating disorder, that is the possible hell to which you will be sentencing them. So tell me, Ms. Baer and Ms. Gholami, under any circumstance, is that justified?
Better yet Ms. Baur and Ms. Gholami, you and those cowardly medical professionals who approved this study can tell me in person in June 2020 in Sydney, Australia at the International Conference held by the Academy for Eating Disorders. All you need do is find the booth in the Exhibit Hall hosted by the Morgan Foundation. Look for a logo that stands out like no other. You will be able to read some of the journals she wrote. You can see the photos of her life. You can tell me how the risk of eating disorders is justified for the potential of losing weight.
And if you dare, you can look me in the eyes and try to convince me that Morgan was simply one more broken egg needed to make your weight loss omelette.