Yesterday a woman posted a plea for help on Ragen’s Facebook wall. She was recently diagnosed with a serious medical condition that can lead to permanent blindness, and her doctor recommended losing weight as part of her treatment. She was so afraid to even mention weight loss in her HAES and “body positive” groups that she turned to Ragen, whose opinion she clearly respects a lot.
Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (pseudotumor cerebri) is a disorder where increased pressure within the skull causes headaches, nausea and vomiting, pulsatile tinnitus (hearing your pulse), visual disturbances, and so on, and will often lead to permanent blindness if left untreated. It’s almost exclusively limited to women, and over 95% of diagnosed cases are in overweight or obese women, with the risk increasing significantly with additional weight.
Treatment for serious cases of IIH may involve drugs, or surgeries to relieve the pressure like optic nerve sheath fenestration (making incisions in the tissue surrounding the optic nerve) or placing shunts in the brain. Shunts must be carefully monitored and often require revision surgeries which are more life-threatening than the condition itself. In almost all cases, weight loss is considered the primary treatment. This is the position of the National Eye Institute, which is backed by a huge volume of research.
Sustainable weight loss through healthy eating, salt restriction, and exercise is a critical part of treatment for people with IIH who are overweight. Studies show that modest weight loss, around 5-10 percent of total body weight, may be sufficient to reduce signs and symptoms. If lifestyle changes are not successful in reducing weight and relieving IIH, weight loss surgery may be recommended for those with a BMI greater than 40.
In response to this woman’s post, Ragen’s Facebook followers chimed in with their experiences with IIH, telling her “correlation doesn’t equal causation”, weight loss may not resolve IIH, etc.
Then Ragen responded.
In summary, a woman facing permanent blindness and seeking permission and validation to follow her doctor’s advice reached out to Ragen for medical help. The primary treatment for her condition is weight loss. Ragen responded by telling her that weight loss is impossible, that it won’t help her, and that even attempting to lose weight could make things worse. She then told the woman to ignore her doctor’s advice and demand the same treatment as “thin people” for a condition that almost exclusively affects obese people. The treatment for a “thin person” is often invasive surgery.
Ragen is so deeply embedded in her own nonsense she’d rather see a woman go blind than admit there is even the slightest possibility someone could lose weight, or there’s any evidence weight loss might improve a medical condition. It is horrifying that people respect her and come to her for this kind of medical advice, not to mention the fact that anyone would even feel they had to in the first place because of a toxic online community environment.
Ragen is a college dropout masquerading as a “trained researcher” and expert on the medical science of obesity and weight management. Her advice is dangerous and potentially deadly.