Jun, 29

Diet Pills - Then and Now

Michael Smith Blog - Know The Cause The other day, I wrote about weight loss surgery and the "health food take-out" trend, but I made no mention of the other popular quick-fix for weight loss; pills. 

Pills designed to aid in weight loss have come in forms both approved and non-approved by the FDA. A number of both varieties have been linked with dangerous side effects and have gotten pulled from the shelves as quickly as they appear. Their mechanism has been anything from a glorified caffeine pill designed to suppresses appetite, to a pill that prevents your body from digesting fat.

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly, depending on how you look at it), the latter was actually approved by the FDA. Xenical was the first drug in a class known as lipase inhibitors. Lipase is the enzyme that breaks down dietary fat; lipase inhibitors keep that enzyme from doing it's job, resulting in a 30% reduction of dietary fat absorption, allowing fewer of the consumed calories to be available. The undigested fat simply passes through the gastrointestinal tract and is excreted. The side effects of lipase inhibitors include a number of uncomfortable (and rather disgusting) gastrointestinal symptoms, not to mention liver problems. The irony is that science has since found that you NEED fat in order to trim fat; fat indeed might be one of your best weapons against bulge. The more good fat like Omega 3's found in fish, nuts and avocados that you consume at the expense of carby, starchy grains, the more likely you are to shed pounds!

Currently, the new weight loss drug Qnexa is under review by the FDA; while it has been found to be effective, it has been reported to have deleterious side effects to the heart and nervous system, along with psychiatric effects. The most frustrating part of the report released by the AP is the line that says:

"Vivus, in its own briefing documents, said research showing that 68% of adults in the U.S. are overweight indicate a clear medical need for Qnexa."
(Vivus, never the ones to exaggerate their own importance…)

With the looming nation-wide health problems posed by the current obesity epidemic, there is in fact a medical need for the nation to drop some weight. But the logic Vivus has followed to reach the conclusion that their pill is the solution to our nation's weighty woes is beyond my comprehension. In light of the problems the FDA has highlighted with Qnexa, I think the opposite argument can be made; there is a medical necessity to avoid Qnexa at all costs. Most diet pills come with the disclaimer that diet and exercise are key to their success. Diet and exercise are the only keys necessary for success. With the right diet, such as the Phase 1, and proper exercise, Vivus's dangerous weight loss drugs or diet pills are, without question, not necessary.

The rest of the piece on Yahoo News talks about stock prices of Vivus and the potential boon for a weight loss drug, once again underscoring the underlying intention of these drug manufactures. Your bill of health is less important than the bill they send you, and there is more money promoting misinformation that would have you believe a pill is necessary to shed pounds. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the FDA.

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