Lying About How You Lost Weight

Oprah shilled for Weight Watchers even as she was losing weight thanks to one of the new wonder drugs intended for those with diabetes (Ms. Winfrey did not disclose which one).  Dieters were convinced Oprah was just following Weight Watchers and hiking every morning.  In short, Ms. Winfrey was touting herself as a role model for self-discipline.

Enter “The Ethicist,” who weighed in, as it were, on a reader’s question, “Can I Lie About How I Lost Weight?”  The Ethicist, New York Times Magazine, June 16, 2024, p. 16.  Kwame Anthony Appiah wrote that relating obesity to some deficiency of character is wrong. “Moralizing about weight management in this way is misguided and unhelpful.”  Ah, but morbid obesity is misguided and unhealthy.

Then in a bizarre twist, Kwame runs down another rabbit hole noting that these drugs do not make things “easy.”  He explains that many patients “suffer from side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, indigestion, and pancreatitis.” It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature — she will make you lose weight with discomfort from the drug itself.  Not disclosing those side effects is also misguided and unhelpful.

For once, could we all just live with the fact that both weight management and weight loss are difficult?  That is not moralizing.  Folks just need help with the difficult part.

Telling the truth about a so-called miracle drug helps others make peace with reality:  It takes discipline unless you want to be a walking gastro-intestinal event.  If you choose not to disclose your use of one of the miracle drugs, then at least tell the truth about the side-effects.  But do not pretend that your weight loss was all self-discipline.  It was self-discipline along with a series of upper and lower digestive track symptoms that would find a goat turning its nose away from a food source.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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