Monday, August 01, 2005

The Elusive Magic Pill

The Charlotte Observer today carried a commentary by Jane Brody, Despite new drugs, a magic weight-loss pill hasn't emerged. In it she recalls her travels across the United States, from New York to Minnesota and back, where it was evident the country is indeed in the middle of an obesity epidemic. I saw evidence of what health experts are calling a national crisis -- an epidemic of obesity, especially life-limiting, health-robbing morbid obesity.

No doubt most of the extremely overweight people I encountered had tried and ultimately failed to keep their weight under control before tipping the scales at 300-plus. In recent decades, they had hundreds of diets to choose from, and many probably lost an encouraging number of pounds on fleetingly fashionable schemes, only to regain the weight and more when they tired of the diet of the day.

Her commentary offers a passing mention of the option of gastric bypass surgery for those who are morbidly obese. Now some experts say that bariatric surgery to shrink the stomach and to bypass part of the intestines is the most effective solution for such people, permitting a loss of as much as half their body weight. But even this radical, risky and costly operation sometimes fails to keep people trim.

She then continues, contrary to her headline, with the idea that a "magic pill" may help. What is troubling however, is that she writes about those available to provide readers with some insights before they try to purchase them online. I kid you not!

Now a host of other medications, several already on the market and others in the pharmaceutical pipeline, are being cited as safer alternatives. However, these too have limitations, and before you ask your physician for a prescription or try to buy the drugs online, you should know just how effective and safe they really are.

For those of you who don't know who Jane Brody is - she is a personal health columnist who writes each week in the New York Times. She also speaks around the country and has a number of books she's published. What she isn't is a medical doctor - to write a column from the perspective of an "expert" in pharmaceuticals - the what you should know before you buy approach - is extremely irresponsible and potentially dangerous.

She reviews a number of prescription appetite suppressants and wraps up with So what's the bottom line? For the foreseeable future, drugs are not likely to be the solution to obesity, at least not by themselves - after she already opened a can of worms suggesting the information in her column is enough information to make an educated decision and perhaps an online purchase!

Jane Brody should know better. Unlike many health writers out there, she atleast has foundation of science education with a Bachelors in biochemistry and a Masters in science writing and has been writing for the New York Times since 1965.

The fact is, the only known long-term solution to managing weight - the one that actually works - is to make a permanent change in your eating habits. For the rest of your life. While gastric bypass surgery may permanently alter your insides, even it cannot guarantee that you'll make the permanent change in your eating habits to slim down and stay trim. See where I'm going with this? It's all up to you. No drug, no surgery, no exercise program, no diet plan - nothing at all can help unless you make the commitment to change what needs to change to lose the weight and keep it off for the long-term.

That commitment is to yourself and your health. Something that no one else has the power to make you do and continue to do over the long-term. You have to want it and your first step isn't a drug or fad diet - instead it's making the decision that your long-term health is worth the time and effort to nourish with a nutrient-dense diet that isn't just a temporary change in your eating to lose weight, but a new lifestyle of eating that you'll start with and continue with the rest of your life. And that my friends is your power - to decide each day that your health is worth eating well and then taking the "just do it" approach for the rest of your life.

1 comment:

  1. Again, you're right--and I believe Jane Brody's been wrong about many things in the past as well--isn't she down on the low-carb approach to better health?

    But what you say is true--it's about changing your eating habits forever--unfortunately, for many people, it's a monster/monumental task to uphold.