YOU ARE YOUR OWN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: Movement, Motivation and Mindset for Active Seniors

Energy Bite 208 – A Rant About Doctors Who Sell Products

Being old and all, I go to several doctors of different areas of practice. During visits to the last three, retail diet products and nutritional supplements were being promoted by the doctors in their offices.

One: My Cardiologist has his pre-packaged dietary meal plan products displayed prominently in his waiting room. He also sells supplements to help treat Sleep Apnea. Besides providing periodic visits and tests, he once recommended that I take a Sleep Apnea test even though I don’t display any symptoms. He knows I eat a pretty healthful diet and has never pushed nutritional meal plans on me.

Two: I just had my annual “Wellness Exam” with my Primary Care Physician. I don’t think they call them “Physical Exams” anymore. He has “before and after” pictures of people who have purchased his nutritional weight loss plans, displayed on the walls in his examination rooms. He used to give seminars on weight reduction using pre-packaged food products and nutritional supplements. He used to display the products but I only saw the “before and after” posters this visit.

Three: Earlier this month, I had my annual eye examination. I got new eyeglasses and tests for macular degeneration. The Optometrist suggested that I “may” have the beginning of macular degeneration. She opened a drawer and offered to sell me a dietary supplement that only Optometrists sold. It would help delay the onset of macular degeneration. She said I could buy an over the counter product, but hers had better “stuff” in it. I asked what the “stuff” was and she said it was lutein and zeaxanthin. I asked what foods I could eat that would provide me with the same “stuff”. She told me to eat a lot of green leafy vegetables. I told her I’d eat the lettuce, spinach and kale. I didn’t tell her what she could do with her “stuff”.

Selling retail products used to be considered unethical and a “conflict of interest”. In 1999, the AMA barely passed guidelines for medical professionals who sell nutritional supplements and skin care products as part of their practice. Many in the AMA still considered that practice to be a conflict. The matter came up initially because many doctors were involved in Multi-level marketing programs at the time and were selling the products directly to patients. But then they transitioned into selling regular, but “doctor approved” retail products.

I like all my doctors but they all know my attitude toward promoting products from their offices. They don’t push anything on me and they know that I won’t buy anything from them. We leave it at that.

I don’t really know what the AMA’s opinion is today about doctors selling nutritional supplements or pre-packaged weight loss meal plans. It seems like a real conflict of interest to me and an area where trust in a medical professional could really be compromised. I would be interested in your experience with it. If you would care to share any experience you have had, email me at and tell me about it.

Thank you for letting me share this rant with you, and thank you for reading.

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