Calling out “quackery”

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Movember Launch

So, today I attended a lunch time webinar – *Special Event Supporting Movember* Reclaim Your Body, Your Energy and Your Life, because my professional assosciation had been given a bunch of free reqistrations, and I thought, why not? I have time and like learning things!

It was offered to a number of assosciations who use the CPD Live platform for their online CPD events, including Financial Planning Australia and The Institute of Public Accountants. This is the link from the main CPD Live homepage. when I checked, there were 71 attendees taking 90 minute of their time, hoping to learn more about their health.

The Blurb:

Session Overview

You can take some very small steps that will become giant strides toward exceptional health, wellbeing and vitality. Disease is not an accident. You can be abundantly healthy, energetic and alive.

Join exercise physiologist and gifted educator John Toomey for a Nuts and Bolts Education forum as he shares with you just how easy it is to take those small steps.

Why do you yawn at 10:30 in the morning?

Why do you sometimes struggle through the afternoon?

How is it that you struggle to get motivated to exercise?

Why is your cholesterol high and what does that even mean?

Little, if any of this is genetic. You can, with some simple changes, create extraordinary changes in your health, sense of wellbeing and your energy levels. You can slash your risk of disease and put all of your attention on creating a great life, never worrying about what might take you out.

Come on in and get some cool tools to rebuild your life.

What you will learn:

The causes of lethargy, fatigue and low motivation
What really causes heart disease and cancer
How to make small changes to have a massive impact
How to quickly get rid of snoring, sleep apnoea, gastric reflux, night sweats and fatigue.
How to quickly and effectively lose weight.

Who should attend:
Anyone who is male, who employs or manages males, or who is perhaps married to or cares about a male.

The presenter, John Toomey was described as
“Exercise Physiologist, Gifted Educator and Communicator
Global Wellness”

The Wellness part should have given me alarm bells, but I took it all in good faith.

The seminar started innocently enough, telling us all to drink more water to help combat lethargy,

Then he brought up a slide about swimming pools.

Yep, you know what this is going.

Some talk about pH, and then launches into the benefits of going alkaline and testing the pH of our urine to know if our blood was going right, and yeah….

I flicked up a couple of links into the chat box about alkaline diets – Skeptic’s Dictionary (which drew the comment “oh there will always be skeptics you have to make up your own mind”), SkepticGirl and, yeah I know, Wikipedia.

He promised us a copy of his ebook … which included a lovely alkalising foods chart which you can google. I didn’tmake it that far, so I can’t share that I’m sorry.

Determined to hear him out, I stuck with the talking for another 15 mins or so.

Until he cited all that stuff that was deemed biased in the now pulled Catalyst program on Lipitor and other anticholesterol medications.

The program focused heavily on the opinions of US experts – one of whom believes vaccines can cause autism and another who promotes chiropractic and chelation for heart problems – while a number of high-profile Australian experts were not used.
One, the University of Sydney head of cardiology, David Celermajer, told Fairfax Media he felt only the evidence that supported the agenda of the program was included.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/abc-will-take-down-two-controversial-catalyst-episodes-on-heart-disease-20140512-zra0y.html#ixzz3Jh44mL2I

John stopped himself from telling people to stop them…. pretty much by saying I shouldn’t tell you to stop them, but you should go to your doctor and tell them they don’t work.

This is when I basically had to call it a day. I was getting riled up, it was a million degrees outside and I had better things to do. I wish I’d remembered that it was the catalyst program that I was thinking of before I signed off, to share that info with the other participants, but I didn’t, and that’s that.

Straight after I signed off, I made a slightly snarky comment on the Speech Pathology Australia chat board that I’d gotten the original sign up link from, saying it was quackery and misleading and I was disappointed. Slight regret at my working, but it was true how I felt! Obviously it wasn’t a SPA event, and they were quick to point that out, and to inform me that they will only be using their own speakers in that medium form now on, or ones they know the content of. Which pleased me greatly :)

I’m all for people eating healthy and making inquiries and questioning what’s the best medicine for them, but not for them to be misled by someone claiming expertise in an area and gussying it up as some sort of favour for Movember. Movember which does such great work at supporting research and education on Men’s Health matters and mental health.

End rant?

For now ;)



  1. Thanks for the straight up opinion ms lioness.

    I’m a co-founder of CPDlive and instigated our Movember lunch time session with John Toomey. Personally, I feel his is an important message to get people thinking and talking about, as you and I are now. I have seen and experienced many benefits from the points john raised. Those salts he talked about are dynamite :)

    I acknowledge that some of it is quite “unconventional” in many circles, but when you look at the state of our health system and our history for some pretty ineffective mainstream ideas, have you seen the old food pyramid lately, I think a little investigation and conversation around these things are a good use of 90 minutes on a Friday afternoon.

    We are all educated people and can take from the discussion what we want. The intent was to give people a time in their work schedule to reflect on their own wellbeing for a change, and maybe kick in a donation to the Movember cause.

    I think as a society we need be mindful, question, interrogate and challenge things that do not work for us. In our health there are many things that are not working for us as a society, let’s challenge these from a number of angles and not kid ourselves we know it all, we are far from that point. And let’s do that with compassion, open hearts and open minds, we could definately do with a little more of that :)

    As I mentioned already, for me, I have seen and experienced a lot of value from John’s work. I also hear the same message coming from many different, highly respected organisations. Take a look at the work the Resilience Institute is doing for one.

    A couple of weeks ago I was standing in the Smithsonian looking at the craft the Wright bros flew. People thought they we nuts, and in many ways they were right. I then went and hopped on an A380 to flight home.

    Thanks for taking up the debate ms lioness, it’s a good one to have.

    All the best

    • Thank you for your comment Anthony

      Consumers and patients definitely need to be questioning of the treatments they receive especially if there is evidence against them or they do not work for the individual. And without questioning we wouldn’t have new breakthroughs in treatment.

      I can understand the questioning of the cholesterol treatments on the market, they, like many things, are often first port of call when perhaps lifestyle change is a much better route at least initially. Unfortunately to blanketly say those medications are ineffective is dangerous.

      I myselfhad a run in with a GP who, on my first meeting with her, suggested I consider weight loss surgery (lap banding) without taking into account whether I’d actually tried other methods, including working with a dietitian or reconsidering my medication regime.

      My training is in speech pathology and education, so I’m not a dietitian, so I also shouldn’t overstep my professional boundaries, but I do think there are too many people out there evangelising diets such as the alkalising methods that are basically pseudoscience. If they are giving people results in terms of weight loss and the like it’s due to the mindfulness of their eating habits rather than the so-called methodology behind pH levels.

      Placebos are great for some, but wouldn’t you rather be doing things with the right science behind it? And I think we must be careful when using our influence as health professionals over our clients. We need to support others to become critical thinkers, to be able to look at evidence. Some of the work my colleagues and I do with parents of children with Autism is to help them look at treatments being offered (and there are a million of them) and to be able to evaluate them to some extent, or at least to ask the right questions.

      You might be interested in reading some of the articles and rebutles collated on a website some friends of mine created: http://rbutr.com/rbutr/WebsiteServlet?requestType=browse it’s a chance to utilise the information rich internet to actually get to see “both sides” of the discussion.

      Here is the Alkaline Diet page ;) http://rbutr.com/rbutr/WebsiteServlet?requestType=browse&tagId=1477849

  2. I believe every one has to work out for themselves what works best for them and their body. Following any ‘one size fits all’ approach it dangerous. But the ‘working it out’ process can be pretty hard too . I interesting post :)

    • Of course, we all have to listen to our own bodies and try to figure out what’s best for us, I just feel that people shouldn’t be misled by bad science.

What do you think?

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