Could it be that... Fitness

We’ll trust anyone but a doctor with our health?

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve received two books from publishers: Luke Coutinho and Anushka Shetty’s The Magic Weight-Loss Pill: 62 Lifestyle Changes and Mickey Mehta’s Lose Weight Gain Shape: The 28-Day Transformation Plan. All three are celebrities: Anushka is an actor, Luke is the person behind brands like GOQii, an Indian fitness tracker. He is a hit on social media (his YouTube channel has 68k subscribers, while his posts have over a lakh views), his worked-out (tattooed) arms and tight tees are a testimony to healthy living. Mickey Mehta, of the previous generation, was made popular through the print media, and calls himself a “leading global holistic health guru”. He uses the honorific Dr, because “he has a double honorary doctorate in holistic health and life sciences from International Medicina Alternativa”. Which in layperson’s language means he didn’t study for it.

Neither Luke nor Mickey are doctors, either allopathic or in any of the traditional practices, and yet they both have practices in healing people. The former likes the word “integrative”, used several times on his website — perhaps for SEO reasons, calls himself “a Holistic Nutritionist”, and also says that he “specialises in CANCER and he has been instrumental in getting 4th stage cancer patients into remission while reducing the chances of a relapse”. He says he has a team of doctors who work with all patients, but we’re not introduced to them.

Getting to understand what Luke’s degrees are is a many-email, many-phone-call process. Finally, he calls me himself. I ask him what his qualifications are, and he emphatically says that he doesn’t practise under them, so wouldn’t like to cite them. On what basis is he practising then? One can only guess. I don’t really want to know how to clean my liver or how to deal with my thyroid problem from a person who has attended a few conferences and has a couple of diplomas.

Mickey Mehta has something called “Nutri YO, Dr Mickey Mehta’s Ayurveda based Weight Management Programme,” which is ostensibly a weight-management capsule. He charms me over a call, when I ask him the same question about qualifications: “Dear Lady, I am uneducated and unqualified,” he says, also talking about epigenetics, the microbiome, full-moon meditation, and being “deep into Ayurveda”. He calls himself a “self-taught, self-made man”, and urges me to “get energised, get naturalised, get regularised, get specialised, get maximised, get Mickeymised”, which I later realise is content from his website. I’d go to Mickey because I think he’ll make a workout fun. Would I go to him to learn that in order to get strong biceps I must uplift the poor? I’d rather go to church.

It’s not just India that has a problem of under-qualified or unqualified people giving out health advice. The Wellness Mama, for instance, not a doctor herself, has a five-step lifestyle detox book. The philosophy grad Deirdre Layne of the Earth Clinic, who also has a book, calls herself a “widely respected expert in natural remedies and healthcare professional specialising in Energy Medicine”.

In the days of super-specialisation, it is ironical that people with great communication skills, are able to fool thousands of people, because we’ve stopped trusting medical professionals (doctors and allied professionals such as physiotherapists, dieticians) who’ve studied and worked hard, but simply don’t have the marketing machinery behind them.

Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 8:40:32 PM |

Next Story