Pamela A. Popper, Ph.D., N.D.

Wellness Forum Health

 I am tired of hearing these types of statements about people and their health:

  • People are lazy
  • People don’t care about their health
  • People are not willing to change their habits
  • People do not want to hear detailed explanations about their health
  • People are not interested in knowing how to interpret scientific studies – they just want to be told what to do
  • People can’t understand detailed information about health and medicine
  • People just want magic pills
  • People don’t want to hear about politics and health

There are some lazy Americans who do not care about their health, want a magic pill, and would rather remain uninformed about the misinformation distributed by our government and many health professionals. But my experience and that of my colleagues does not support the idea that most people want to remain ignorant, overweight, and sick. I’ve found that people are very interested in learning about diet, health, and medicine. My books sell well, 100-200 new subscribers sign up each week for my YouTube channel, and my lectures are well attended. People don’t get up and walk out from boredom when I present the science; instead they stay and ask questions. They want to be knowledgeable and to make better decisions.

It is also not true that people cannot understand the data needed to make informed healthcare decisions; they absolutely can be taught to do so. People regularly make decisions about all kinds of things that are complicated and for which they have no specialized training, including purchasing cars, houses, and computers. Salespeople who work for companies like Apple don’t talk about the stupidity and disinterest of their customers; rather they work to help people understand what they need to know in order to buy a computer that meets their objectives.

It is the responsibility of healthcare professionals to explain things clearly to consumers.  If patients do not understand their choices and the associated risks and benefits, in most cases it is the fault of the provider, not the patient. Only in healthcare are the sellers of services allowed to withhold information, often with the paternalistic attitude that it’s all too complicated for “normal” people to understand, without consequence.

As for the statement that Americans are lazy and looking for magic pill formulas for health issues, we can hardly blame them. The drug companies advertise their products on television and in many other media, showing people living happily ever after with conditions like arthritis and diabetes as a result of taking drugs. Drug makers have recruited an army of salespeople – medical doctors – and in fact most ads direct people to doctors in order to get the drugs. These companies have a lot of confidence that doctors will prescribe them if patients ask. They have reason to be confident – they spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year “educating” doctors about the “benefits” of drugs, while providing them with free samples, free meals, lucrative consulting contracts, free continuing education, and free trips.

On the other hand, few doctors tell their patients that many of the most commonly prescribed drugs and treatments are almost useless. Most patients are not told that diet and other more sensible choices can potentially help to resolve their health issues, and there is no multi-billion dollar media campaign promoting plant-based nutrition as the best way to address illness. Americans are not being given the clear choice between optimal diet and useless or harmful drugs and then choosing the drugs. Instead most are being offered only drugs and procedures, with a great deal of enthusiasm, by professionals they think they can trust – their doctors.

People should be offended and angry that they are being characterized as lazy sloths who are happy to remain sick and burden the healthcare system with expenses for their care. Until they are offered clear, objective, and comprehensive information, we can’t blame them for their poor choices.

Understanding this has enabled me to be much more patient with people as they try to undo years of brainwashing. They’ve been told that disease just “happens” to people as a result of bad genes or bad luck. They are often told to take drugs and to have procedures by the “best” doctors at prestigious medical institutions. They are also often told that diet does not make a difference in health outcomes, and to eat anything they like. Undoing all of this takes time, commitment, and patience – not only from consumers who want to live healthier lives, but also from those of us who are trying to help them.