Lose Weight, Get $50k -- Would You Do It?

Cynthia Dermody

hand holding dollar bills
Flickr photo by bfishadow
Donna Simpson, the 42 year old New Jersey woman who's eating 12,000 calories of fatty foods a day and barely moving to get to her goal of 900 pounds, got a surprise in her mailbox recently.

It's a letter from a Florida obesity doctor, so disturbed by all the publicity Simpson's getting for grandstanding her destructive goal that he's offered her $50,000 if she'll change her mind, go on a diet, and get down to a healthy weight.

Do I smell a hypocrite (as well as new reality show) here?

Ever since this story broke last week, Twitterers and other social media addicts have been egging Simpson on toward her goal. Dr. Sanford Siegal of Miami worries the publicity storm is teaching America's kids that all it takes to be famous is to do something stupid. Has he turned on the news lately? I think he's giving Simpson a little too much credit.

Here's part of the letter where Dr. Siegel tries to shock Simpson back to reality:

"But, mercifully, you are not likely to reach your goal. As your diabetes becomes more severe and you become less mobile (probably bedridden), there's a good chance that one or both of your legs will be amputated. This will reduce your weight significantly. Of course, your legs will not be much use to you since you probably won't be able to walk anyway, with or without them. You may not even miss your legs since you won't be able to see them as a result of the blindness that often accompanies diabetes. But you may still feel pain in them even after they're gone. That often happens after amputation; it's called 'phantom pain'."

The terms of his offer include:

  • The first $10,000 will be paid upon her (1) ending her weight-gain diet and agreeing not to resume it in the future, (2) beginning a weight-loss diet of her choosing under a doctor's supervision, and (3) agreeing to speak to the media about her unequivocal decision to end her self-destructive behavior and pursue a healthful weight.
  • The other $40,000 will be paid in $10,000 increments as she reaches certain weight milestones and reaches 200 pounds.

Um, doc, I don't know you, but what was that you said earlier about a PUBLICITY STUNT? If you really cared for Simpson and all the impressionable minds of the nation's youth, you could have sent the letter without also notifying the national media, or maybe just had your nurse call her up and schedule an appointment? I hear Florida is nice this time of year.

You see, Siegel has his own weight loss program that I'm sure he's hoping to slip into the mix, but I'm not even going to mention the name of it here because that's what he wants, and I've already given him way more PR than he deserves.

Would cold hard cash (and the prospect of a reality show) be the answer to helping you lose weight?


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