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Fraser Obesity Report: Let Them Stop Eating Cake

Lizette Elumir, MD. Family Doctor, Calgary, AB

Lizette Elumir, MD. Family Doctor, Calgary, AB

Today’s post is a response to the recent Fraser Institute’s report on obesity, sent to me by Lizetter Elumir, a family doctor in Calgary, Alberta, who is currently doing her residency in Public Health.

Let them eat cake [brioche].” Though the originator of this quote is doubtful, the message is clear. Would one claim that impoverished 18th century French people had strong incentives to eat and “hardly need[ed] the government to give them additional incentives” to eat bread?

A prominent governmental organization decided that one of their objectives was to improve the mobility and independence of low-income, poorly mobile, isolated seniors. A walking program was started – the organizers set themselves up in an affluent mall and served refreshments, perhaps even cake. It was poorly attended. The organizers decided that these seniors were not choosing to improve their isolation and mobility despite the strong incentive to do so and therefore, the governmental organization abandoned the program.

The Fraser institute is a prominent think tank in Canada, priding itself on its independent, impartial research. A quote from its recent report, Obesity in Canada, reads:

Finally, and perhaps most critically, it is likely that most obese individuals realize they are heavy and that they may be making diet and lifestyle choices that keep them obese. They also have strong reasons to drop their excess weight including social stigma, reduced incomes, and the health risks associated with the excess weight. As Marlow and Abdukadirov note, “[the obese] hardly need the government to give them additional incentives to lose weight. People aware of their mistakes also have strong incentives to correct them.

Obesity in Canada

I recognize that different philosophies exist. The Fraser Institute is a big proponent of personal responsibility. Therefore, poor people should just eat cake, obese people should stop eating cake and elderly people should attend a walking program and they may even get some free cake. I am not demanding that the Fraser Institute change their philosophy. However, is it a mystery to you why seniors did not jump out of their wheelchairs to attend the well-intentioned walking program? Do you ever wonder why this little thing called the French Revolution occurred? Or why prominent obesity experts recoil in horror when reading this Obesity in Canada report?

I feel the need to quote another misquoted, misattributed saying: “With great power comes great responsibility.” If the Fraser Institute aims to publish thoughtful, accurate and measured information to influence public policy in a meaningful way, then its responsibility is also to provide balanced information. Or, at the very least, not oblivious information.

The Fraser Institute is in the business of improving the welfare of individuals. If its researchers employed the rigorous research methodology that it boasts, the institute would discover that the shame and blame game is generally not an effective way of doing that.


  1. Didn’t a study demonstrate that among Canadians, Quebec-ers eat the most cake and have the lowest levels of obesity?

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  2. Tomorrow morning well over a million persons, spread across the world, will get up and go to work in fields related to weight control. Lab tech., doctors, scientist in biology, writers, researchers, dietitians, physical trainers, etc…

    At the end of the day, will one of them find a solution to the broblem of obesity ??

    I doubt it, they have been working at it for over thirty years without success as the obesity rate has just about tripple over the past 30 years.

    I have personally lost 181 pounds during the past two years, (51% of my initial weight) and I don’t claim having found a solution for the obesity phenomenon.

    Althow the Fraser Institute claims there is no obesity problem, I feel there is a humongous problem when I make my daily plan to maintain my actual weight.

    When they claim there is no problem, are they aware that one of the million workers is about to reveal the secret to control weight ?? i sure have no idea what it could be ! !

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  3. Hmm. They might have had a much merrier turn-out for the occasion if they’d served nice Chardonnay with a mixed cheese platter. 🙂

    @Marc Vakin—actually the “solution” for someone like you may already exists!!!

    Right now the patent to leptin’s analog (Metreleptin) is in the hands of AstraZeneca (U.K.)— and there are clinical trials underway to test Metreleptin’s therapeutic effectiveness “in the Maintenance of Reduced Body Weight.” Estimated Study Completion date: December 2015.

    However, at this very moment, Pfizer (U.S.) is chomping at the bit (with a current bid of $109 Billion) to take over AstraZeneca (including the rights to Metreleptin.) Astra is bravely holding out, for now, but Pfizer can legally go straight to Astra’s stockholders on May 26 (probably with an even sweeter offer) if Astra doesn’t cave-in before then.

    Of course, if Pfizer walks away with the big prize (Metreleptin), I’m betting Pfizer will bury any option to market it for “weight maintenance”—because, no doubt, the profit/loss ratios have already been thoroughly crunched—and the profit gods have spoken.

    The enormous revenue losses from steadily collapsing sales—of diabetes meds and supplies, weight-loss crap, psychotropic meds, and all the other drugs related to obesity and metabolic syndrome, hypertension, gastric reflux, etc—would be catastrophically unthinkable for Pfizer CEOs and shareholders. Unfortunately, if you’re someone who is suffering severely from weight-reduced leptin deficiency aka adaptive thermogenesis—

    aka starvation syndrome—well, then, in that case, you’re the tragic loser in the whole deal.

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  4. Thanks for the liens hopefullandfree.
    I will read them several times, I will subdivide the sub-subjects with a spreadsheet. I will make sure I don’t miss a word.

    I will let you know on this post my layman opinion.

    Thanks again

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  5. To hopefullandfree, i wrote a long comment and lost it.

    It somekind of mean let’s wait and see.

    My weight loss was a project.

    The maintenance is another project. I will manage this second project for the rest of my life.

    Just like any other venture, I must do what it takes to make it work.

    If science develop a usefull medication, it will be easier for me, but I doubt it will be during my lifetime.

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