Diet Industry
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image by Tacit Requiem

There are no magic pills for weight loss. I say this over and over again.

Yet the pharmaceutical industry keeps trying to prove me wrong. A recent segment on Morning Edition from NPR caught my attention the other day. They said the FDA hasn’t approved a new weight loss drug since 1999. It’s not for lack of trying. It’s simply the ones brought up for approval couldn’t prove results that outweighed all the potential side effects.

I was listening to the Morning Edition story while working out (my latest workout addiction is podcasts) and I became more and more irritated as I listened. The story was about the latest drug to seek FDA approval, Qnexa.  It was rejected in 2010 due to concerns about heart problems and birth defects. It’s up again for review on February 22.

The story didn’t indicate any changes in the drug, nothing that would makes it any more effective or that any of the side effects had been disproven. The risk of birth defects (they think) is slightly less. There was, however, the story of one woman who participated in the trial of the drug. This woman, Tammy, proclaimed she had tried everything (without specifying what everything meant) and signed up for the trial as a last ditch effort.

Success. She lost 40 lbs. over the course of the year because it helped her not feel “ravenous” and curbed her desire to snack.  As I am working out, my quads burning from sissy squats, I think to myself, “smoking kills your appetite too but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea”.  I hear her again say, “I had tried everything and none of it worked”. Really? Tried every fad diet perhaps, but I find it hard to believe she had actually tried eating clean, strength training and fat burning cardio with absolutely no results.

I say this because I hear “I’ve tried everything” all the time. I am usually sitting with a new client, getting to know them before we start working together. They tell me all the diets they have been on and the roller coaster of weight loss that has gone with them. They explain that exercise, with the exception of a little walking, hasn’t been part of their lives. I can hear the frustration in their voices as the recount all their previous efforts. It’s their stories that make me so confident that Tammy has not indeed tried everything.

I respect the fact that Tammy lost 40 lbs. and I am sure she felt the effects of being lighter: less stress on the joints, decreased blood pressure and lowering her glucose levels (she had been told she was borderline diabetic prior to starting Qnexa).  The problem however is the same one as any fad diet. The last line of the story was her desire to go back on the medication because she had gained back 20 lbs of the weight she had lost. That tells me one thing. She didn’t address the lifestyle issues that are really the root of the problem.

I don’t know anything about her, but I can guess that she feels like she can’t or doesn’t have time for exercise. She’s probably saying that eating healthy is too expensive or she is trying to live off the overly processed “diet foods” that the advertisers pitch as the healthy choice to stay lean.

I am willing to bet money she hasn’t tried everything. There are proven strategies to keep you fit and healthy for life. My bet is she hasn’t tried them for any extended period of time, if at all. If she had, those 40 lbs. would still be gone and she wouldn’t be clamoring for the magic pill to start losing again.

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