Two news items caught my attention this week, both presenting two very different approaches to weight loss and the obesity health epidemic in the United States. I'll start with what I consider the good news.
Foodista shared a story about Glee's Amber Riley (Mercedes). Lat year she gave up fast food, citing severe stomach pain. She replaced it with healthier food choices and dropped two sizes. If conventional wisdom is correct, that's about 20 pounds. And she looks better for it - not just smaller, but more healthy. And, according to her, that was the point - to get healthy. People Magazine has the full story.
The other story is about a controversial drug that was recently reviewed and re-approved by the FDA after previously being pulled off the market for an array of side effects, including heart problems and birth defects. According to NPR, the FDA reconsidered their previous ruling on Qnexa, stating that, in light of the obesity epidemic, the benefits outweigh the risks. The benefits are an estimated 3-10% loss of body weight. That means of you weigh 200 pounds, Qnexa could help you lose up to 20 pounds. Putting you at 180.
Which is what I weighed when I joined Weight Watchers in 2004. (For the record, I lost 35 pounds in three months using the Points system to keep track of my food and exercise.) As you might guess, I'm not a fan of using a drug when a lifestyle change will result in similar - and possibly permanent - results. Drugs have side-effects. As mentioned above, Qnexa is no exception.
With the re-approval of Qnexa, there are also recommendations for monitoring those taking the drug. These include limiting prescriptions to a 30-day supply and regular check-ups with a doctor. They also include regular pregnancy testing for women of child-bearing age to ensure pregnant women do not put their unborn at risk.
These are all very sensible precautions to have in place for a drug that still has some serious health concerns. But, here's the thing - if we are willing to take such extreme health risks to take a drug to lose weight, why not take the far less risky steps to just alter our eating and exercise habits? As Ms. Riley and many others have proven - it works.
What we weigh and how we feel are directly tied to how we treat our bodies. A steady diet of high-calorie food that contains additional chemicals to establish a consistent flavor that will last through deep freeze, miles of transportation, and a quick turn in the microwave cannot be good for us. If we do not know what's in our food, we do not know what we are putting into our bodies. And, if we feel lousy after we eat, we need to pay attention to that crappy feeling and make some changes. I'm with Ms. Riley. I gave up the crap and never looked back. Obesity has enough associated health risks. Why add to it with a drug that may only result in a 3% weight loss.