Dr. Pierre Dukan, the French founder of the controversial Dukan Diet, is facing an ethics hearing for his suggestion that French high school students should be rewarded on exams for not being overweight.
Dukan, who’s wildly successful high-protein, low-carb diet has a celebrity following that includes Kate Middleton, made a public recommendation that France’s baccalaureate exam include an “anti-obesity” section that students can pass by staying within their recommended weight range. The exam is required for 17 year olds to finish high school and enter college.
Health professionals immediately responded to the comment, outraged, and the French College of Physicians says Dukan violated the country’s medical ethics code that states “a doctor must be aware of the repercussions his views can have on the public.” The College claims Dukan’s statements were reckless and could do damage to overweight teens and those struggling with eating disorders.
“Everything about this is wrong,” Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, told ABC News. “It’s wrong because it invites eating disorders. It’s wrong because weight has nothing to do with academic performance… and the notion that weight is a behavior that should incentivized is just wrong. Weight is an outcome. We should incentivize things people can control.”
The College of Physicans lodged a second complaint that accuses Dukan of breaching a seperate part of the ethics code, which states that medicine cannot be practiced like a business. The College claims Dukan is prioritizing making money over medicine. His Dukan Diet has sold more than seven million copies and his website provides paid weight loss programs.
Dr. Dukan is no stranger to criticism. Last year, Dukan lost a libel case against nutritionist Dr. Jean-Michel Cohen who panned the Dukan Diet as ascam and dangerous, saying that the only people who benefited were those that made money- not dieters.
The ethics hearing will occur within the next six months, and if found guilty, Dr. Dukan could be removed from the French medical registry.