Doctor Taken To Task For Including Junk Food In Daughter’s School Lunch

Now here is something really thought provoking. A father was strongly criticised by his daughter’s substitute teacher, because she considered the school lunch, he packed for the little girl, was too unhealthy.

I can’t say I’ve ever heard of that happening, but maybe it needs to happen more often than it has.

The teacher sent a note home with the child demanding that the father promise to do a better job in the future. In the note, the daughter’s substitute teacher, at Kirksville Primary School in Missouri, listed the unhealthy foods in the little girl’s school lunch, which included four chocolate bars, a bag of marshmallows, crackers and a pickle. It ended: “Please see that she packs a proper lunch tomorrow.” The letter was followed by a request for a parental signature, which the father refused to give, because he was so offended by the letter’s contents.

Wait. There’s more. Here’s where the story gets really interesting.

The Dad in question, a man called Justin Puckett, also happens to be a family Doctor from Missouri. He posted the contents of the letter on Facebook.

Now I am sure many will think, some might even say, as a Doctor, Justin Puckett, should know better than to send his daughter to school with a lunch containing so much junk food.  In his defense, the Doctor and father said “I have the ultimate responsibility to raise my children and I take that role very, very seriously and so maybe I took it bit more personally that there was some offence that maybe I wasn’t doing a good job in that duty, something that is my number one job.”

Of course a cynic might say if it’s your number one job Justin, you need to be doing it better.

To be fair, Justin Puckett, also made the point that the teacher did not give an accurate description of what was in his daughter’s lunch: “Unfortunately, the letter didn’t have what she had, correctly. She had four pieces of ham, a whole protein meat, she also had some pickles, which we admittedly cheat on pickles every once and a while as a vegetable, because some fights just aren’t worth having. She also had four marshmallows in a Ziploc bag and then she had three very small pieces of chocolate, of which she ate one for lunch and then she also gave her brother and another friend one at an after school program,” Puckett said.

The school later called the family to apologise saying the substitute teacher was out of order. The school released a statement saying: “we had an individual take it upon themselves to send a note home to parents ……this will not happen again.”

Puckett went on to say “The issue isn’t what happened at the Primary School and with my daughter because she is very independent and going to be completely unaffected by this. But what does bother me is that it just seems that we are constantly being inundated with the inability to be parents of our children,”

Has Puckett got a point? Or was the substitute teacher in the wrong here? In the court of public opinion I am not so sure. The substitute teacher obviously takes her job very seriously. She sees herself as an educator whose role is to promote healthy minds and bodies. She thought she was doing the right thing. No way could that school lunch be said to be healthy. The child might have got away with one piece of chocolate but if you were to ask any nutritionist, four pieces of chocolate and a bag of marshmallows is definitely a bridge too far. Now, you might think it silly to be having an argument over some junk food. But what isn’t silly is the latest missive from the World Health Organisation, warning that diseases linked to lifestyle choices, including diabetes and some cancers, kill 16 million people prematurely each year and urgent action is needed to stop what it describes as a “slow moving, public health disaster”. Unhealthy habits like consuming too much fat, salt and sugar along with smoking and alcohol abuse, are causing an epidemic of diseases, which together constitute the leading cause of death globally. The WHO says this “lifestyle disease” epidemic “ is a much greater public health threat than any other epidemic in human history.

” Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, and a range of cancers, killed 38 million people around the globe in 2012 — 16 million of them under the age of 70, the WHO says. ”  Not thousands are dying, but millions are dying … every year in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, not in their 80s and 90s.”

Forty two million children under the age of five are considered to be obese, and an estimated 84 per cent of adolescents do not get enough exercise.

In Australia, for example, some leading health groups have called on the Government to consider introducing a tax on junk food and sugary drinks. The Consumers Health Forum, the Heart Foundation, the Obesity Policy Coalition and the Public Health Association of Australia are calling on the government to take decisive action to end the widespread marketing of junk food and drink. The groups surveyed 1016 people, and 50 per cent supported a government imposed tax on junk food and sugary drinks, similar to the tax on alcohol and tobacco. The research also showed 79 per cent of people believe if a child’s intake of junk food is not lowered they will live shorter lives than their parents. Seventy-seven per cent of people polled, support making it compulsory for all packaged foods to have a health star rating. Eighty five per cent of people surveyed, say unhealthy eating habits is now a major problem for Australian children. It is the first time four major health groups have joined forces to demand action from the Government, which they say is now urgent.

“Despite at least six reports from task forces, obesity summits and research papers in the past 20 years advocating firm measures to stop marketing junk food to children, the advertising of fat, sugar and salt drenched products continues largely unrestricted,” the groups say in a joint statement. “Unless immediate action is taken to address dietary related illness there will be a significant increase in cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.” Heart Foundation National CEO, Mary Barry believes introducing a tax will help protect Australian children and stem the cost of obesity in this country which is estimated at $56 billion a year. “The obesity crisis is threatening a whole generation of children,” Ms Barry said.

Those are compelling reasons for why a dispute over four chocolates and a bag of marshmallows isn’t so inconsequential after all and why a father and a doctor should know better, and a substitute teacher might not have been so out of order in reminding him.

Let’s Talk About SEX

Lately I’ve been blogging a bit about sex. Which is a bit of a worry. It normally isn’t my thing. Talking about it I mean. There is something wildly inappropriate about a middle-aged man, speaking of things that are best left said and done in private. When you get to my age you need to be occupying your time thinking of wholesome pursuits like lawn bowls. But I blame all the bizarre stories that keep popping up.

Let me give you a for instance. The vaginal orgasm, does not, cannot exist. Bet you didn’t know that? Women do not ejaculate, and the G-spot named after eminent gynaecologist, Doctor Ernst Grafenberg should be renamed the F-spot. That’s F for fantasy.

As one wag observed, these final, anti-climactical words are contained in a controversial paper published in the latest journal, Clinical Anatomy.

The researchers from the Italian Centre For Sexology, which sounds like something you’d find in a Fellini movie, claim that the only way a woman can climax is through clitoral stimulation. Vaginal orgasm has no scientific basis and in any case, the concept is a Sigmund Freud invention.

The researchers conclude female orgasm is possible for all women, always with effective stimulation of the female erectile organs.

Phew. I’m glad of that. They had me worried.

But not all sexual health professionals are happy with that ending.

For example, Kayt Sukel, author of Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships, says the researchers who wrote this paper have got it wrong.

While anatomy might be important, sexual response is more than just the sum total of our nether regions. She says the researchers do not explain why some women can’t climax even with sufficient clitoral stimulation while others are capable of reaching orgasm in the absence of it.

Kayt Sukel says this study doesn’t take into account other studies, outside of anatomy, that have examined the vagus nerve, the role that the brain plays in orgasm and how direct cervical stimulation can lead to orgasm in paralyzed women.

In their paper, the researchers from the Italian Centre For Sexology make another controversial point. They argue that because the clitoris, the female equivalent to the male penis, is an external organ it therefore makes internal vaginal orgasm impossible.

Can’t believe how many times I’ve used the V and P words. Talk about out of your comfort zone.

But people like renowned Australian urologist, Helen O’Connell, dispute this concept of a woman’s anatomy. Doctor O’Connell says the clitoris is very much an internal organ.

As for the G-spot, the Italian researchers say it belongs in the same category as unicorns and angels in terms of believability.

You know what? I’m done with all this pop psychology.

What I find amazing is this constant obsession with female orgasm. It just puts more pressure on people. Relationships are hard enough as it is without having to raise the bar in the bedroom.

Surely the most important element of a healthy sexual relationship is being with the right person. The closeness, the sharing and just having regular, good old- fashioned cuddles. Old fashioned, that’s me.

Sex is not a race nor is it a competition. It’s about two human beings who love each other. Nothing is ever cut and dried. It’s never just the one part but the sum of many. There endeth the lesson.

How Can You Get Cancer So Wrong?

I read something the other day I found quite challenging in a personal sense primarily because someone close to me is battling breast cancer. The question I am posing is this: Should a Doctor whose misdiagnosis causes the death of a patient, be named and shamed?

This ethical and moral question was prompted by a case in New Zealand where a doctor was forced to apologise to the family of a woman who died from breast cancer because he “forgot” to tell his patient she had the disease.

Here’s the backstory. The woman was successfully treated for cancer in 2003. In November 2009, six years later, she presents herself at a clinic complaining of pain in her left shoulder. Now at this point alarm bells should be ringing in any event. Breast cancer can make a comeback and the timeframe is usually within five or six years.

Her treating Doctor knew her medical history, knew she was a cancer survivor. He referred her for an x-ray and the specialist radiologist said it revealed a tendon tear that appeared “highly suggestive of metastasis”, or the spread of cancerous lesions.

As this point alarm bells should have stopped ringing and treatment begun immediately but that didn’t happen.

The GP saw the woman again several days later. He told her about the tendon tear and gave her a steroid injection, which the woman said was “excruciating”.

But crucially he did not mention the cancer link nor did he refer her to a cancer specialist.

She was told to return in a month if the pain persisted, which she did twice, before the doctor finally referred her to an orthopaedic surgeon.

The woman was correctly diagnosed with recurring breast cancer in February 2010, after she changed doctors. Despite several years of aggressive treatment, the woman died.

The case became the subject of a complaint to the New Zealand Health And Disability Commissioner.

The doctor told the inquiry he either overlooked or completely forgot about the radiologist’s comment in relation to a suspicious lesion.

The Health and Disability Commissioner criticised the GP for failing to read his own notes, ask the right questions, or reflect on his patient’s medical history when assessing her.

He said Doctors owe patients a duty of care in handling test results, including advising patients of the need to follow up on those results.

The GP was referred to the Director of Proceedings for possible legal action.

Clearly neither the patient, nor the Doctor nor the clinic or its location has been identified. I can completely understand not identifying the patient now that she has passed away out of respect for her family.

But the Doctor, I’m not so sure. If we are going to be talking about duty of care, what about the duty owed to all the other women? Especially those with a history of cancer or symptoms of the disease or even the same symptoms as the woman who died?  They might visit that same Doctor and run the risk of a misdiagnosis. If they knew his name they could make a choice to either see him or go elsewhere.

Or is he entitled to the protection offered by the medical profession to Doctors like him who make a mistake? We all make mistakes. Has he paid enough of a price already? Well has he?