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Did This Doctor Just Condone a Concentration Camp Diet on Live TV?

Dr. Ric Gordon noted on 'Today' that "there were no overweight people" in Nazi camps in an attempt to speak out against junk food and obesity.
Hilary Pollack
Los Angeles, US
August 13, 2015, 3:15pm

Fact: we're all eating too much junk food. This is especially true in the UK, the US, and Australia—the latter of which is eating an alarming three times the recommended amount. And there's no doubt that foods loaded with fat, salt, and sugar aren't optimal for a healthy weight and physique. Take, for example, the recent study that linked Southern-style food with early death.

READ: Southern Food Is Delicious But Will Eventually Kill You


But recently, controversy has been heated over a Coca-Cola-funded study claiming that obesity is more closely tied to lack of exercise than to diet. For one thing, this assertion directly contradicts loads of previous research that suggests that what we eat is way more likely to determine whether we're fat or not than whether we're hitting the gym regularly. That's not to say that exercise isn't incredibly important, or beneficial; merely that you can't out-exercise a terrible diet.

Perhaps with this line of thinking in mind, Dr. Ric Gordon, a medical expert who often appears on Today to offer commentary, recently remarked on live television that prisoners in Nazi concentration camps may be looked to for the key to weight loss. And he didn't do it very tactfully.

Gordon appeared on Today on Wednesday to discuss the diet/exercise dichotomy and how it plays into lasting weight control. And he had some choice—or really, not so choice—words for overweight people who didn't understand how to successfully slim down.

"Look, everybody enjoys some sweet food," he says to host Karl Stefanovic, "You're absolutely right. But something controversial: there were no overweight people in the concentration camps."

No shit, Sherlock. Could that be because the Jews, artists, peoples with disabilities, Poles, Serbs, homesexuals, and other people wasting away in, say, Auschwitz were being starved to death?


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He continues: "Now, they weren't exercising a lot. They just weren't eating. Now I'm not going any further with that except to say what you put in your mouth ends up on your hips. Very important."

Feel free to watch the cringeworthy segment below and observe as Stefanovic awkwardly thanks Gordon before disclaiming, "He said it, not me."

#MediaWatch Dr Ric Gordon suggests eating less like people in concentration camps: via @YouTube

— David Marler (@Qldaah) August 12, 2015

He's right that "they just weren't eating"—there weren't exactly a lot of husky residents of Buchenwald. But unfortunately, his remarks instead carry a connotation that Nazi prison camps could be looked to as "thinspo."

As Time notes, concentration camps often served prisoners little more than coffee or tea, watery soup, and tiny amounts of bread, sausage, or cheese to sustain them for an entire day. Many victims got by with less, or didn't get by at all and perished from malnutrition.

Additionally, Gordon's argument that prisoners were not "exercising a lot" is incorrect. Many of the people captured and interned during the Holocaust were forced to partake in hard labor, even without adequate rations of food. And once they became too ill to continue working, they were often murdered in the infamous gas chambers.

Gordon's foot is likely in his mouth after making the unsavory remarks. But in the future, perhaps he should put more thought into his remarks about what does—or doesn't—go into the mouths of others. Nazi prisoners, of course, included.