Overweight? No pill will fix that
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 itâ€™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? Canâ€™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 wonâ€™t be hearing any ad for it real soon. On Thursday, an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected a Vivusâ€™ 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 â€śhuge public healthâ€ť 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 thereâ€™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. Weâ€™re huge.
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 youâ€™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 wouldnâ€™t be so heavy.
But thereâ€™s no quick fix and the real fix is not easy. Itâ€™ 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 â€“ youâ€™ve heard it all before, right? If youâ€™re tired of squeezing into last yearâ€™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. Youâ€™ve heard all that before too.
Maybe a pill sounds better, but you should heed the words of Dr. Lamont Weide, of the FDAâ€™s advisors:
â€śThe reality is when they go off (the drug) they gain the weight â€¦ this is likely a lifelong therapy.â€ť
You want to take a fat pill for the rest of your life?
Thereâ€™s four words to avoid all that:
Eat less. Exercise more.
It works. Try it. And, you donâ€™t need the FDAâ€™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.