Since the AMA has classified obesity as a disease, will there be a cure?
I’m sure the AMA had good intentions. Once classified as a disease, there may be more money spent on research, education and insurance coverage.
The number of overweight and obese men, women and children has been increasing steadily since the health craze began in the 80’s. Over the past several years we have seen initiatives, studies, reports, programs, task forces, agencies, guidelines, screenings, and counseling. We freely admit there is a problem, but seem unable fix it. So much money had been spent over the years to find out why people are gaining weight and how to remove the responsibility from the true causes.
There’s no doubt that we make bad food choices and don’t exercise enough. But, there are many other causes also. Food additives, medications, genetics, and stress are contributing factors. There is no single reason for weight gain. Agricultural subsidies from the government should promote healthier foods instead of cheaper foods. Food labels should be truthful. The chemicals and additives in processed foods have side effects – we need to know what they are and what they do. We need REAL truth in advertising and junk food should not be marketed to children. Healthy food should not cost more than processed garbage masquerading as food.
Two drugs have recently been approved by the AMA as obesity drugs.
The magic pill – I think not!
Qsymia and Belviq are available by prescription as obesity drugs.
How does the FDA approve drugs you may ask?
First, a drug company creates, designs, concocts a drug and then tests it themselves. Then, the drug company sends evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the drug (that they tested themselves) to the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. A team of experts at the CDER reviews the material sent from the drug company. The CDER does not test the drugs themselves but conducts limited research.
So, how safe and effective are these drugs?
Belviq is an appetite suppressing drug that may be habit forming. It is manufactured by a Japanese pharmaeceutical company for distribution in the United States. Belviq adjusts the serotonin levels in the brain and can interact with prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal products. It is not to be used by pregnant women, women who plan to become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children under the age of 18. While results may vary, the average weight loss is approximately 12-20 lbs. in a year. The trials performed by the drug company included a modified diet and an exercise plan. The side effects can range from mild to severe. (dizziness, fatigue, constipation, headache, nausea, dry mouth, hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of face-lips-tongue-throat, unusual thoughts or behavior, feelings of being outside your body, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself, agitation, fever, rapid heart rate, fast or uneven heartbeat, tremors, slow heart rate, shortness of breath, swelling in hands or feet, trouble concentrating, memory loss, hallucinations, body aches, flu symptoms, back pain, sores in mouth and throat, breast swelling in men and women, nipple discharge, erection lasting more than 4 hours, painful erection, and depression)
Qsymia works much in the same way. It contains phentermine (the less harmful drug in phen-phen) to suppress appetite and topiramate (an anticonvulsant and migraine medication) which increases the feeling of being full and makes food taste less appetizing. The average weight loss on Qsymia is 22-28 lbs. over a year. Qsymia has not been studied in combination with insulin – hmmmm. The trials of this drug also included a modified diet and exercise plan. The drug should not be taken by pregnant women as it can cause fetal harm. The side effects range from mild to severe. (paraesthesia, dizziness, dysgeusia, insomnia, constipation, dry mouth, pounding heart, fluttering in chest, blurred vision, eye pain, halos around lights, glaucoma, severe low back pain, red or pink urine, feelings of thirst, inability to urinate, heavy sweating, hot-dry skin, mood disorders, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or behavior, impaired concentration, difficult with memory-speech-language, low blood sugar which can cause headaches-hunger-weakness-sweating-confusion-jitters-irritability-dizziness-fast heart rate, low potassium levels which can cause confusion-uneven heart rate-extreme thirst-increased urination-leg discomfort, dangerously high blood pressure which can cause severe headaches-blurred vision-shortness of breath-seizures-buzzing in ears-anxiety-confusion-chest pain).
The estimated cost of each of these drugs is expected to be about $200 per month. Some insurances will cover most of the cost. The FDA is requiring 6 post-market studies including a trial to assess the long term risk of heart attack or stroke. So it seems that we are to be the guinea pigs.
Who benefits from the release of these drugs?
Pharmaceutical companies and medical institutions.
Treating obesity as a disease will drive up healthcare costs which are passed onto the people, will remove personal responsibility for our choices, will remove the responsibility of our government to subsidize healthy foods and provide parks and recreation areas, will eliminate accountability of food companies for manipulating the salt, sugar and fat content of our foods and for being untruthful in their labeling and marketing. This may also cause more people to seek medical intervention through expensive and risky treatment or surgery and may also cause more people to seek disability status.
Somehow, the classification of obesity as a disease doesn’t sound like a good idea.