The initial complaint to the Ethics Committee who approved the Fast Track Trial was put together by clinical psychologist Louise Adams. This complaint was co-signed by 29 health professionals and 2 organisations, and was lodged in November 2018.
The complaint outlined the risks and lack of evidence for potential benefits to teenagers in larger bodies. The complaint called for the trial to be either stopped altogether, or for the fasting group to be replaced by a weight-neutral intervention, which is much safer. You can read the letter here.
This letter was reviewed by the Ethics Committee and an anonymous board of 'experts.' The letter agreed that severe dieting carries a risk of eating disorder development in adolescents, but said that the risk was worth it, because the kids might lose weight.
The letter said that some 'adjustments' to the study protocol would be made, but they would be continuing to run the trial. You can read the response letter here.
A letter to the CEO of the Sydney Children's Hospital Network, Dr Michael Brydon, was sent by Louise Adams, as per the complaint process. You can read this here.
This second complaint was dismissed by Dr Brydon. Read his response here.
A second group complaint was compiled by eating disorder activist Ruth Leach, which was co-signed by 35 health professionals, many of whom had also experienced dieting induced eating disorders.
This complaint outlined the metabolic damage done by yo-yo dieting and weight cycling, as well as questioning the lack of information being given to parents on the Fast Track consent form. Read this complaint here.
Ruth's complaint was dismissed in a letter from the Ethics Committee. This time the committee did not even respond to most of her points. You can read this letter here.
Many other letters of complaint have been sent to the Ethics Committee, in both group and individual form. The responses have been uniformly dismissive.
Louise Adams lodged a complaint to the Australian Research Integrity Commission, which is the highest level a complaint can be taken. The ARIC responded by saying that the complaint was "outside their remit".
Eating disorder organisations around the world have released statements calling for the Fast Track Trial to be stopped. Here are excerpts from some of them:
The Australian and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders (ANZAED):
"The Australia & New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders (ANZAED) has very strong concerns about the level of energy restriction being undertaken in this trial. Specifically, ANZAED is concerned that the daily energy intake is much too low for growing adolescents and that the pattern of energy intake established in this trial may lead to difficulties in eating patterns in the future for participants in the trial."
The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED):
"Research that promises few to no reasonably anticipated benefits alongside serious risks in a vulnerable population, such as appears to be the case in this study, should not proceed."
"Fasting, in particular, is a risky and irresponsible recommendation for developing bodies. It represents the far end of restrictive eating and thinking about food. The eating disorder community quite rightly is stepping forward to decry this direction in research, not because of an objection to scientific progress but because of known harms to children"
Joint Statement from Eating Disorders Victoria (EDV), Eating Disorders Queensland (EDQ), The Butterfly Foundation, and ANZAED:
"We agree that there are strong concerns about the safety of the young people involved in the trial. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with onset common during adolescence."
Health At Every Size (HAES) Australia:
"HAES Australia is opposed to the ‘Fast Track to Health’ Study...The Fast Track study will communicate to children that the bodies of larger people are objects of concern and that their bodies are ‘wrong’ and need to be ‘fixed’. Weight stigma is a social justice issue. To improve the health of adolescents with larger bodies, efforts must be directed towards changing social and cultural attitudes to recognise body diversity."
The Stop The Fast Track Petition
The change.org petition demanding a stop to the Fast Track trial was signed by 20 000 people around the world. These voices need to be heard.
Please sign the petition and add your voice to growing number of people calling to Stop The Fast Track Trial.