Lorcaserin was approved by the FDA on June 27 and will be sold as the brand name Belviq. Produced by Arena Pharmaceuticals out of San Diego, California, it is indicated for the treatment of obesity in addition to a reduced-calorie diet and exercise. Upon that approval news, I was quoted in an article on SheKnows.com saying “This is a sad attempt by the FDA to thwart the obesity epidemic,” and I stand by my comment.
I also mentioned in that statement that we need a plan to solve the problem, so here goes.
A Vision for Ending Obesity
I just read this fantastic book by Dr. Francine Kaufman called Diabesity: The obesity-diabetes epidemic that threatens America– and what we must do to stop it. This women is an inspiration to females in the medical profession like myself and to diabetics all over the world. She’s specializes in pediatric endocrinology, which is the treatment of children with hormone conditions, particularly diabetes. What she’s found in her years of practice is a growing trend of youth developing type 2 diabetes. This was once previously called adult onset diabetes, but this is now not the case. The vast over-consumption of food beyond what our bodies actually need to function and the sedentary lifestyles that we now lead has caused our children to develop this devastating illness. I feel this is why the FDA is approving diet drugs when initially they were rejected due to side effect concerns.
The cost of medical care for diabetics is astronomical and with people developing it at earlier ages this will only exacerbate the problem. Part of the Affordable Health Care Act is a $13 billion fund with a committee developed to focus on prevention of diseases. This is where medical practice needs to move toward prevention and away from treatment.
Speaking from Experience: My Personal Weight Loss Journey
When I weighed almost 300 pounds I went to my doctor and said, “Doc, I can’t shut my mouth, I can’t stop eating, maybe I should get the LAP-Band.” He told me no, that I could do it on my own and that some patients eat through their LAP-Band and gastric bypasses. A study just released showed that 60 percent of patients who have gastric surgery gain the weight back, and another showed that 20 percent get diabetes back. He referred me to a nutritionist and here I am a year and a half later and 90 pounds lighter.
We know the formula, and if you’ve seen the Biggest Loser you’ve heard it a bazillion times: calories in versus calories out. That is a huge part of it, no doubt. There are genetic factors at play as well, which Dr. Kaufman discusses in her book, calling them thrifty genes. Thousands of years ago, we were nomads and hunters and gatherers. We experienced periods of hunger and our bodies stored moderate amounts of fat to prevent starvation. Women had more fat stores usually because they were feeding infants as well as themselves. Those who have more thrifty genes are even more likely to pack on the pounds, this is why certain populations are more prone to type 2 diabetes such as African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and Asians. Now this is just merely a theory but there is some evidence to back it up. Those who have more thrifty genes have to be even more vigilant with their consumption and expenditures.
Simple Ways to Start Managing Your Weight
So here’s what I would suggest to anyone who wants to lose weight: take small steps that you feel you can continue. A drastic change with huge restrictions will make it more likely for you to fall back into unhealthy habits. For example, drinks with calories and loads of sugar like soda, teas, energy drinks, juice and cocktails are empty calories and unnecessary. Cut them out and you will probably cut out hundreds of calories a day. If you cut out 500 for a week, there is one pound of weight loss!
Walk! You don’t have to go from couch potato to running a marathon. Go to the mall or outside. I like to do a late evening walk with my son that usually takes about half an hour.
Limiting our screen time, whether it be in front of the television or computer, is a great way to cut down on sedentary activity.
Make your plate more colorful by adding more fruits and veggies to it! Just like Courtney’s week 2 summer challenge!
The biggest thing I would say is to be a good example for your children. I’ve struggled with weight all my life and I refuse to let my son go through what I have. We can’t expect our children to live healthy lifestyles if we don’t.
The Culture and Mentality Needs to Change
The view of healthy eating and exercise needs to be altered so more people will want to make these changes. I think cooking courses should be offered and more available to those who want to eat well and know that it will taste great. That is probably one of the biggest complaints about eating healthy, that it doesn’t taste as good as fried and fatty foods.
I think junk food should be excessively taxed and taken out of our children’s school lunches. If anything, it should be a every once in a while luxury, not an everyday thing. Dr. Kaufman talks about the bans that took place in Los Angeles area school eliminating soda from their school system. Bravo! Many people are concerned about the right of the individual and not being told what they can put in their mouth. I understand that, but seriously, you’re slowly killing yourself; maybe some oversight is needed. People who smoke and drink alcohol excessively are doing the same. What you are doing is not just hurting you, it’s hurting those you love. I would say, “don’t you want to live a fulfilling life and see your children grow up, and see their children grow up?”
Anyone who has seen the movie Wall-E can tell that the movie is a foreshadowing of what is to become of our world. I will be at the front lines trying to stop it. I hope you will be standing next to me.
Diabesity image via experiencelife.com; personal photo by Sarah Khan, graph via LATimes.com
July 11th, 2012