Conflicts of Interest

Bariatric surgery & more conflict

The Sunday Times (12 September 2010) provides the story for the this article:

I often write about conflict of interest and advise that we should all read articles with the approach – who stands to gain from this article?

The Sunday Times should have been ashamed of Sunday’s front page story. It was entitled “Surgery is better than dieting, says top doctor.” The article quoted Nick Finer, indeed a well known and respected obesity expert, as saying “The only answer to Britain’s obesity epidemic is to offer surgery to anyone suffering from severe weight problems.” He suggested starting with the 1 million people with a body mass index greater than 35 and presumably working down from there. This would be phenomenally lucrative for pharmaceutical companies providing gastric bands, surgical equipment for the operations, drugs taken around the time of the operation, liquid diets (a pre-operation and often post-operation requirement) and, of course, the surgeons who perform these operations.

The real story is that a number of our national obesity experts (most that I have come across) have fundamental conflicts of interest, which should invalidate any so called expertise that they come out with. Why did the article not list Finer’s conflicts of interests? They are easy to find – they were listed in a February 2010 journal declaration:

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