Moms Disgusted by Kathie Lee and Hoda's Coverage of Feeding Tube Diet 'Trend'

Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford find nasal tubes hilarious and disgusting, apparently.

First reported in the New York Times Sunday style section, and then covered on the morning news shows and in TIME, it seems brides are using nasal-gastric feeding tubes to drop as much as 20 pounds in 10 days.

For moms of kids who need feeding tubes to stay alive, the trend — and the giggling coverage it’s getting — is disgusting.

On Today’s Talk, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb chuckled while referring to the trend as “almost kind of sick” and “ingenious.” (See clip here; segment starts at 5:10.)

“That tube has to stay down there, there could be some infections, who knows what the other problems are with it,” Ms. Kotb says. “But you’re carrying around a bag all the time. ”

Mom Traci Nagy, whose son has a feeding tube, says impaired fashion is not the issue.

“I’ve been carrying around that bag since August 2008, everywhere we go,” said Ms. Nagy. “Yes, people with tubes sleep with that bag. That’s not what’s important. The coverage of this isn’t at all looking at this being a medical device.”

My 6-year-old is more mature than this: When the clip shows the NG tube being inserted, Kathie Lee and Hoda exclaim to their viewers, "don't look!" Kathie Lee also says "la la la la la" to avoid hearing about the procedure.

“Nasaogastric (NG) tubes can be fairly dangerous in that, if they come loose, or are inserted incorrectly, the tube  can go into the lungs,” said Ms. Nagy. You could accidentally feed the liquid into the lungs. It’s unlikely, but it does happen. They’re also using a ketogenic diet, which is used primarily to control seizures. Most children who are started on this diet, are started in the hospital. The fact that is all very medical, and not just a diet, is being lost.”

“The part for me that makes it feel unethical, is that it’s a misuse of a medical device,” Ms. Nagy added. “When there’s no clear medical reason, when it’s elective, when it’s truly cosmetic — that’s not what this is prescribed for. Having a low-calorie diet doesn’t require a tube and prescription formula. Hoda and Kathie Lee are portraying the feeding tube as optional, when we’re struggling to get the people in our lives to understand that this is not just a convenience.”

Blogger Brandis Goodman, whose daughter has a feeding tube, writes,

“I’m trying not to pass judgement on women who obviously are feeling insecure about their bodies and want to look good on their wedding day, but I think that using an NG tube and ketogenic diet to shed a few vanity pounds takes extreme and ridiculous to a whole new level.”

In response to Ms. Gifford and Ms. Kotb’s laughs over the possibility of the tube getting knocked out, Ms. Goodman describes the process of re-inserting her daughter’s tube when it does come out.

“I bind my baby in a blanket with her arms tucked down at her sides so she can’t move, put her on the floor, straddle her so I’m keeping her from moving but not squishing her, put one palm on her forehead to keep her head still and slightly tilted back, and then run the tube up her nose and down her throat while she cries and gags and chokes and screams. Then I get to try to hold it down in place with one hand while I stick a piece of tape on it with the other hand (tape which will cause her skin to blister within a few days) and then get out my stethoscope to listen to her stomach and make sure it’s in place. Then I unwrap her and hold her close until she’s done screaming. That’s what real life with a feeding tube is like. But I guess you probably don’t know about that part because a story like that is sad and doesn’t get the same ratings as an outrageous fad diet story.”

Parents on the Feeding Tube Awareness Facebook page are registering their disgust, calling the doctor involved “unethical” and the way it was covered, especially on Today’s Talk, ” a slap in the face.” Kathie Lee and Hoda’s Facebook page has been inundated with messages from parents, many of which include photos of their children with feeding tubes.

Kathie Lee and Hoda are horrified by the fashion faux pas of having to carry a formula bag around all the time. I'm sure the feeding tube community appreciates their support.

Personally, I can’t fathom how a doctor can see clear to insert a prescription medical device into an otherwise healthy patient. Doctors are called upon to “first, do no harm.” Prescribing a ketogenic formula at dangerously low caloric levels, and then jamming a tube down someone’s nose into their stomach, certainly seems like it has some potential for harm.

Kathie Lee Gifford’s and Kota Hotb’s obvious disgust with the procedure, and cackling over the formula bag, was in really poor taste. They clearly weren’t thinking about the children and adults whose lives are sustained every day by feeding tubes–people who endure enough stares and questions as it is. If the physician’s credo is “first, do no harm,” maybe the talk show host’s credo should be “think before opening your mouth.”

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You can read more from Joslyn at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.

Article Posted 5 years Ago

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