‘Well, what diets have you tried so far?’ asked the GP, flicking through the patient’s notes. I was an innocent trainee doctor on my general practice placement at the time and watched the interaction carefully, sensing a row was about to ensue. ‘Look, I don’t want to go on a diet, I want you to prescribe me these,’ snapped the patient, bringing out a neatly folded page she had torn out of a magazine. The GP, rolling his eyes at me, took the paper but didn’t read it. I suspected he’d read it before. This was yet another example of what’s becoming a very British epidemic: obesity being self-diagnosed as disease.
The doctor attempted to explain that tablets really aren’t suitable in her case. As well as having some potentially nasty side effects, they’re expensive to prescribe, and don’t offer a long-term solution.