Overweight? No pill will fix that

July 19, 2010


The following is a guest post by David Warner, a Philadelphia-based journalist and health writer. The opinions expressed are his own.

Would it not be wonderful if there were a pill for everything?

Have some kind of irritating bug? Pop an antibiotic, even if it’s a virus. Want to quit smoking? The heck with willpower, take something, wear a patch. Sex life on the wane? Men, swallow that little blue pill. Depressed? Can’t sleep? There are so many pills to choose from. Just watch all those late night commercials.

Overweight? There could be a pill for that as well. But you probably won’t be hearing any ad for it real soon. On Thursday, an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected a Vivus’ drug approval bid for their new weight-loss drug called Qnexa, saying it was too experimental because there was not enough data to warrant approval. One FDA panelist said approving it would amount to a “huge public health” experiment. The FDA is expected to issue a final ruling on Qnexa by October 28.

No question, obesity in this country is epidemic. It is a serious health issue, and there’s a laundry list of consequences for all of us. Heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer, high blood pressure and more. Even our kids are too fat, and, as with adults, that has adds social consequences as well. No kid wants to be the fattest child in the schoolyard, no adult wants to ask for the seat bealt extension on an aircraft. And no taxpayer wants to give you Medicare or Medicaid payments to help you with those diseases when you could have avoided them.

Just look around in any public place. A crowded street, a city bus, a shopping mall. We’re huge.

Click here for an interactive map of countries that have the most overweight population.

So along comes a company like Vivus that wants to help us with that. Well, they and a long list of over-the-counter weight loss pills already on the market that may or may not be effective, and may or may not be safe. Do your homework if you’re tempted to buy one.

All of this can be seen through the prism of an easy-does-it society, where fixes are quick and the effort is minimal. If it was that easy, we wouldn’t be so heavy.

But there’s no quick fix and the real fix is not easy. It’ hard, but worth it, like most things in life.

The simple truth is this: to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. That sounds simple, right?

More fruit, more vegetables, fewer snacks, less sugar – you’ve heard it all before, right? If you’re tired of squeezing into last year’s pants or watching the springs of the car sag as you get in, then do something about it.

The other part of this equation is to be more physically active. Go for a walk, start a regular exercise program. Take up tennis, or bicycling. You’ve heard all that before too.

Maybe a pill sounds better, but you should heed the words of Dr. Lamont Weide, of the FDA’s advisors:

“The reality is when they go off (the drug) they gain the weight … this is likely a lifelong therapy.”

You want to take a fat pill for the rest of your life?

There’s four words to avoid all that:

Eat less. Exercise more.

It works. Try it. And, you don’t need the FDA’s approval for that.

Above image caption: Lesnansky and Ferguson fill out applications to appear on the television show “The Biggest Loser” while waiting in line to audition for the show in Broomfield, Colorado on July 17, 2010.


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Thank you for the quick quote, “Eat less. Exercise more.”
I recently lost 70 pounds but it took me almost 18 months. When people ask how I lost weight, they rarely appreciate the idea of eating less and exercising at all. Most people want me to say that I followed a new fad diet or strict eating regimen. As humans, we always look for the quick fix with minimal personal effort. We must be willing to admit that no matter what we eat, if we eat too much, it is too much. We must readjust our mind set of portion size – my trick is order off the kids menu or take half my food home.

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