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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

FDA Approves OTC Weight Loss Drug

I returned from a weekend ski trip in West Virginia to find this story spread across the web: FDA Approves GlaxoSmithKline's Alli. Fellow bloggers Dr. Michael Eades of Protein Power, Ross Boxing's Ross Enamait, and Livin' La Vida Low-carb's Jimmy Moore all have their takes on it and pretty much match mine exactly.

Basically, this drug keeps the body from absorbing the fat in a meal because as we all know "fat causes you to get fat." One unfortunate side-effect is a decreased absorption of the all-important fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K. And a socially unacceptable side-effect is the possibility of messing your drawers the first time you fart; the fat has to go somewhere so it goes to your colon to be passed out. Except that the colon isn't equipped to handle that much fat and tends to pass it out in oily spurts that ruin clothes and furniture. This is not a healthful undertaking, nor one that will cure obesity for a lifetime.

Big Pharma will not rest until every American is taking at least one pill to treat a symptom. To be sure, this pill does not treat a disease any more than prescriptions for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or depression treat a disease. They are all treatment of symptoms. But why would the pharmaceutical giants want to treat symptoms? Because diseases go away when treated...symptoms don't. So they can treat you for a month for your disease or treat you for life for your symptoms. Which sounds better from a business standpoint to you?

But obesity is a disease, right? Nope, obesity is the symptom of a life lived in lethargy and caloric abundance. To successfully treat obesity, a person must move more and eat less. In fact, there has always been an over-the-counter weight loss drug: proper nutrition. Since the dawn of grocery stores, you've been able to pick up your "pills" in the produce aisle and at the butcher. It's very simple to lose weight (although that doesn't mean it's easy); eat meat, vegetables, nuts, oils (olive, coconut, and palm), fruit, tubers, and squashes. Avoid foods in brightly colored packages and anything laden with sugar or trans fats. If the bulk of your diet is full-fat meat and vegetables, you will lose weight. It will be nearly impossible not to. The powerful satiating effects of protein and fat and the fibrous bulk of vegetables will make it very difficult to overeat.

Sadly, I'm sure we'll see some parents putting their overweight kids on this drug in an attempt to stave off weight loss surgery. I'm sure this won't be the last time I say this: Avoid the diet pills and miracle cures. Get yourself on a proper nutrition plan, one that mimics our evolutionary past, and get off the couch. Your underpants will thank you for not taking Alli.