On May 25, 2012, "The Doctors" aired a segment devoted to summertime weight-loss tips. Tip number 9 was a suggestion that viewers "fake a butter" allergy to avoid the ~120 calories added to meals from vegetables cooked in butter. This advice should be immediately retracted for the following reasons:
1. It encourages dishonesty, and advises viewers to falsely claim a life-threatening condition in the name of getting "swimsuit ready" for the summer. Similar advice would never be given regarding falsely claiming to have diabetes, celiac disease or cancer. If an individual chooses not to eat butter, they need only ask, "No butter, please. I'm watching my weight." There is absolutely no need to lie.
2. It trivializes the seriousness of legitimate food allergies, which result in over 30,000 visits to emergency departments and 200 deaths per year in the United States alone. Inundated with false allergy claims, restaurant staff are likely to observe less diligence when encountering patrons with true life-threatening allergies, resulting in unsafe scenarios. This could have disastrous consequences.
3. The medical basis for the recommendation is unsound, immunologically-speaking. Life-threatening food allergies are in almost all cases a result of an immune hypersensitivity response to a food protein. Butter is a prepared food product, in which the triggering agent is milk protein. A "butter allergy" is as non-sensical as a "casserole allergy".
Mr. McGraw, as the executive producer of "The Doctors" program, you are urged to take the high road and put the greater public good ahead of ratings.
Immediately remove this topic from "The Doctors" website, and issue an online and on-air retraction of this ridiculous advice. In addition, please devote an episode of your program to dispensing accurate advice about food allergy by interviewing families who deal with this condition on a daily basis, and consulting with the Board-Certified Allergists who care for them.
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