Hey there, it's Susan Peirce Thompson, and welcome to the Weekly Vlog.
So one of the aims of Bright Line Eating® is to help the world overcome this obesity pandemic that is just galloping ahead with no clear end in sight. We want to see obesity trending down instead of up, and we want to spread a message of some basic truths: Food addiction is real; not everyone's affected; and for people who are affected, a more structured approach to eating is going to produce freedom, not a feeling of imprisonment or restriction.
So I want to share with you a study that was just published that presents some pretty bleak findings. And I want to tell you something that I did about it this week that is a tiny little action in the right direction, but definitely an action in the right direction. And I want to share with you something that happened a couple of weeks ago that I think spells a lot of hope.
Okay, that's what we're going to cover in this Vlog. So first, the study. The study was published in the journal "Family Practice" in December of 2022, and they were curious what physicians say to their patients who are living with obesity when they go to give weight-loss advice. So this isn't saying that physicians always do give weight loss advice to their patients who are living with obesity. Actually, they don't usually.
And I was talking this morning in preparation for shooting this vlog with a physician friend of mine named Dr. Mark Goetting, more about him later. And Mark was saying, "Yeah, the reality is that there are a lot of constraints on doctors as they interact with patients, primarily time and money constraints. So they have these very short appointments, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and they've got specific things they've got to cover."
And then Mark and I went on to talk about how there's a fear now of being offensive to patients who are living with obesity. There's also, I think, a lot of helplessness of like, "What do I say? What would really help or work anyway?" And so doctors are inclined not to bring up a patient's weight these days, but this study looked at when they do.
So they looked at 159 conversations between doctors and patients as a part of another study, which was targeted at looking whether it was effective for doctors to give brief weight-loss advice, like to mention a patient's weight. So these were all doctors consulting with patients who had clinical obesity. And again, the whole point was that the doctors were going to mention the patient's weight and bring it up. But then this study looked at, "Well, what did they say? What did they say?" They knew they had to mention their patient's weight as part of this study. They had to bring it up and give some advice.
And oh my gosh, the results were pretty stunning, I think. In the context of knowing that they needed to give advice, they said almost nothing at all. So in only 21% of cases, 1 in five, did they say anything beyond a general, "You might want to look at your diet, might be good to follow generally accepted best practices for dietary health. You might want to eat less and maybe exercise more." Like that's it. 80% of the time, they said nothing more specific or targeted or helpful than that. Just the most general banal comment about, "You might want to look into this. Eat less, exercise more." When it came to anything more specific about what "exercise more" might mean, only 11% of the time did they say anything beyond that.
Only 2% of the time did they say anything about, "You might want to track your calories or look at how much you're eating." Any mention of caloric restriction or quantities or like, "Your weight is the result of eating too much food," right? Only 2% of the time did they even go there. And a tiny fraction of the time, did they ever mention any specific weight. It was like 6% of the time. 6% of the time did they mention any specific. Anything like even, "You might want to eat low fat or whole foods, or keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, Bright Line Eating," anything specific, 6% of the time. So they were giving basically no guidance. They were just saying, "Hey, weight's an issue. You might want to eat better."
So I think that study speaks to why aren't doctors saying anything. They've got nothing to say. They don't know what to say. They don't know what to say. And in that context, it's really easy to fall back on the whole, "I've got other objectives in this appointment. The appointment's very short. I don't want to be offensive." Just the pressures to not address it at all are very large.
So what's the little tiny, tiny ray of hope that I have to offer here? Well, this last week I gave a talk to a bunch of physicians from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. So this isn't a university, this is a professional association of physicians who are trained in lifestyle medicine.
So what is lifestyle medicine? Lifestyle medicine's pretty great. You probably know that medicine has subspecialties. So once you're a physician, you can get board certified in sleep medicine, board certified in endocrinology, whatever, these subspecialties. And lifestyle medicine is now a sub-specialty. So you may have heard me talk about this when a couple of years ago we raised a bunch of money--us as a Bright Line Eating community--on behalf of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine for their endeavor to create a test bank for medical schools so that doctors would start teaching dietary health and the food-as-medicine approach in med schools, because their students might at some point have test questions on their board exams.
It turns out, shocker, physicians and professors in med school are teaching to the test, like everyone is. They know their students have to take boards, and if there's no question on nutrition in the boards, they're not going to teach nutrition in med school. So we helped create questions for those board exams. Now those questions are now being shopped around and sold essentially to medical schools who need to voluntarily adopt them. And once a preponderance of medical schools voluntarily adopt them, they will become required on everyone's medical boards. That's still in process, but we helped get that test bank created. That was an initiative of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. We helped make it happen. So that's the context in which you've heard me talk about the American College of Lifestyle Medicine before. So the American College of Lifestyle Medicine is an educational arm, essentially of the lifestyle medicine movement.
What's lifestyle medicine? There's six pillars of lifestyle medicine. One is healthy eating. They consume whole foods and more plant-based than not. The Food Revolution Network is a huge colleague, I guess, of lifestyle medicine, and there's lots of physicians. You might know some of these names, Michael Greger and David Katz and Dean Ornish and et cetera, et cetera, who are involved in the lifestyle medicine movement. So plant-based eating (or more plant-based than average), whole foods eating, getting enough exercise, good restorative sleep, managing your stress, avoiding substance use like heavy drinking and tobacco smoking, and good positive social connection. Those are the six pillars of lifestyle medicine.
And a lifestyle medicine doctor is more likely than average to look at a patient with diabetes, say, and instead of just saying, "Well, here's some glucose tabs and let me teach you how to shoot yourself up with insulin because that's what you need now." They're more likely to say, "Let's look at your diet. Let's look at your sleep. Let's look at your movement. Let's look at the underlying causes of this type 2 diabetes, because you don't need to be suffering with type 2 diabetes. We can reverse this. We can at least reverse the symptoms of it and keep you off insulin." So that's lifestyle medicine.
So this past week, thanks largely to Dr. Mark Goetting. So let me tell you who this guy is. He did the Bright Line Eating Boot Camp back in 2015. He's a physician. He's board certified in obesity medicine, sleep medicine, and lifestyle medicine. And for a long time, he ran a bunch of hospital-based weight-loss clinics for the State of Michigan. And he's had an incredible career. He has published all kinds of articles, and he and I have co-published together. He's a huge supporter of Bright Line Eating. Thank you so much for your work, Mark. And Mark reached out to a couple of the leaders of the member interest groups in lifestyle medicine, specifically the Mental and Behavioral Health Group, and also the Happiness Science Member Interest Group, and got the leaders of those member interest groups to support me giving a talk.
So I gave the talk, and the talk was on helping your patients overcome overeating. Like, what do you do when your patient presents with obesity? What do you say? And I gave them a bunch of new tools. I talked about the science of food addiction. I talked about some quick assessment tools you can use. The Susceptibility Quiz is one of them, but only one, to help your patient understand the extent to which addiction might be in play. I talked about what happens when patients adopt a more structured way of eating, a Bright Line approach to eating. I shared our published research findings showing that a Bright Line approach to eating creates massive weight loss on par with these new weight loss drugs, these semaglutide drugs showing these doctors that there are alternatives if you have patients who are concerned about being on a drug with side effects for the rest of their life to manage their weight.
There is a behavioral intervention that produces equally good results. Up 'til now, there wasn't one. Bright Line Eating is the only behavioral intervention that produces that kind of massive weight loss that is sustained. So yeah, I presented a lot of stuff.
About 60 physicians were in attendance, more will watch the recording. And I'm hopeful, fingers crossed, that this might translate into a keynote address at the annual meeting for the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. I would so love that. I would be so honored. And so this is a tiny step, but as you know, in the eight years since I started Bright Line Eating, I've taken many tiny steps.
And here's the last little nugget I wanted to share in this vlog. A couple weeks ago, I attended a three-day, all-day Zoom workshop for people who facilitate people's growth and transformation experiences, either online or in person. And it's a facilitation method. And there were 160 people in attendance. And throughout the three days, we were put into a bunch of small groups for various reasons. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of small groups. I estimate that over the three days, I probably met, let's say, 30 people in these little small groups. And it was my experience that about half of them said something to the effect of, "Oh, Susan Peirce Thompson, I know who you are. I've seen your work. Great work. Thank you for your work in the world," which says a bit about what our collective Bright Line Eating efforts have been doing over the last eight years.
Now this was a biased sample of the population. This wasn't a representative sample of the human family. These were people who lead mostly online workshops. So, more educated than average, more clued-in than average, more growth-oriented than average. People way more likely to have heard of Bright Line Eating and our message than average. But still I was pretty floored by how often I heard that. "Oh, I know who you are. I've seen your materials. I've read your book. I watch your vlog," whatever.
And, all time, 2 million people have signed up for the Bright Line Eating email list at one time or another. They're not all still here. People unsubscribe, and we purge the list. So if people aren't actively opening and clicking, we don't send emails to them anymore because it's expensive to send emails and it's cumbersome, and it's bad for deliverability to keep sending to people who aren't opening and clicking. So all 2 million aren't here, but 2 million have heard the message. That's the point.
2 million have heard the message, and it's a pretty simple message: Food addiction is real, not everyone is equally affected, and a structured way of eating for people who are affected can produce a lot of success and freedom and relief. That's it. Just that message can help so much.
And for these physicians who don't know what to say, learning to say, "Food addiction is a real thing. So if you're experiencing a lot of cravings and inability to control how much you eat once you start, there are treatments for that. And here's a quiz you could take to get a sense of how your brain responds to food. And if you do have more cravings and more insatiable hunger on board, there's things you can do about it. And here's your first step. Why don't you take this assessment to find out what's true about your brain?" Boom. Easy, right? So I gave that message just this last week to 60 physicians, and on it goes.
Thank you for being on this journey with me. Thank you for being part of the Bright Line Eating movement. We are making a difference. That's the Weekly Vlog. I'll see you next week.