Weil Quacks Like a Food Nanny Duck

Andrew Weil, member of the advisory board of the so-called Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), and a person not known as a proponent of evidence-based science, somehow wound up being the keynote speaker at the American Academy of Family Physicians Scientific Assembly in Philadelphia.  As if there weren’t already enough things on PCRM’s “avoid” list—like cheese, chicken, milk, and fish—Weil badmouthed a few more:

[H]e launched the American Academy of Family Physician’s 2012 convention by telling fellow doctors that they could help Americans most by starting a grass-roots effort to ban sugary drinks, pharmaceutical advertising and break up the medical industrial complex.

The article in the Philadelphia Inquirer reminds us why we might recognize Weil’s name:

Weil, 70, has become well-known in the health-care community for his advocacy of integrated medicine, meaning a mix of conventional medicine, natural remedies, yoga and novel concepts like regular exercise and healthy eating.

So scientific medicine is not Weil’s strong suit. In an article in the Huffington Post, Weil rejects the science behind eating less and exercising more as “too simple” of a solution. He’s a proponent of “alternative medicine” that rejects tested treatments. It’s a good thing that most medical doctors understand that “well-known” does not mean “based on science.”

As a critical 1998 article in The New Republic by Dr. Arnold Relman explains:

There are not two kinds of medicine, one conventional and the other unconventional, that can be practiced jointly in a new kind of “integrative medicine.” Nor, as Andrew Weil and his friends also would have us believe, are there two kinds of thinking, or two ways to find out which treatments work and which do not. In the best kind of medical practice, all proposed treatments must be tested objectively. In the end, there will only be treatments that pass that test and those that do not, those that are proven worthwhile and those that are not. 

Looking at who gives Weil glowing reviews should give anyone greater pause. His latest book True Food has been hailed by Marion Nestle, a proponent of the “Twinkie” tax, and Alice Waters, who got under the skin of Julia Child thanks to her “endless talk of pollutants and toxins.”

In 2006, even the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) (not exactly friends of ours) said Weil was “hardly an objective expert” in the way he promoted vitamin supplements.

Dr. Relman notes:

Like so many of the other gurus of alternative medicine, Weil is not bothered by logical contradictions in his argument, or encumbered by a need to search for objective evidence.

So attacking “sugary drinks” (including fruit juice) is all part of the game. Weil does well for himself as a restaurateur and author of books such as his 2001 hit “Eating Well for Optimum Health.” Soda is something that Weil must think he can’t market himself–whereas playing the food nanny is something that he’s quite accustomed to. And now, he’s calling on doctors to pursue for a grassroots movement–doctors who could better spend their time using science to study ways to improve health.

As for Weil, he rejects science like water rolls off a… well you get the idea.

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