Americans have become too hungry. As a nation, we’re hungry for many things, food and instant results being two of the big boys. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 Americans has the body mass index to be classified as obese. This is a problem. We know this is a problem. The FDA has decided that it’s time for them to step in and be part of the solution, by approving the second weight loss pill within a month. This is great news, right? NO.
Quick fixes almost never lead to long-term results. As with most rehab programs, in order to break free from an addiction, you need to establish the root of the problem that has lead to the addiction. Does popping a pill help you determine your personal triggers? No. Drugs are serious business, people. Just because a doctor has given you the green light to take something doesn’t mean it will a) work, b) be safe and non-addictive or c) be appropriate for long-term use. What would Jillian Michaels say about this? When Jillian was a trainer on “The Biggest Loser”, she would mesmerize me by her ability to bring the root causes of food addition to the surface, for the contestants to face. It was incredible to watch. She would often say that “people who are truly happy are not morbidly obese. They’re just not.” Unless you have a medical condition that slows your metabolism to zero, if you are obese, you are using food to fill a void. Can that void be filled by popping a pill? I think not.
The pill that will soon be available for America’s popping pleasure is called, Qsymia. In a press announcement made by the FDA, they stated that “Qsymia is a combination of two FDA-approved drugs, phentermine and topiramate, in an extended-release formulation. Phentermine is indicated for short-term weight loss in overweight or obese adults who are exercising and eating a reduced calorie diet. Topiramate is indicated to treat certain types of seizures in people who have epilepsy and to prevent migraine headaches.“Obesity threatens the overall well being of patients and is a major public health concern,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Qsymia, used responsibly in combination with a healthy lifestyle that includes a reduced-calorie diet and exercise, provides another treatment option for chronic weight management in Americans who are obese or are overweight and have at least one weight-related comorbid condition.”
“The safety and efficacy of Qsymia were evaluated in two randomized, placebo-controlled trials that included approximately 3,700 obese and overweight patients with and without significant weight-related conditions treated for one year. All patients received lifestyle modification that consisted of a reduced calorie diet and regular physical activity. The most common side effects of Qsymia are tingling of hands and feet (paresthesia), dizziness, altered taste sensation, insomnia, constipation, and dry mouth.”
The patients in the above study didn’t just take the pill and saw results. They had to exercise and reduce caloric intake too. So, I’m sorry, but why is the pill needed? If the directions on the bottle are basically to “eat less and move more” then why not just do that? These patients might’ve lost slightly more weight with the pill than they would’ve by just dieting and exercising, but is that worth the possible side-effects? How many people will not follow these rules and expect the pill to do all of the work for them? Long-term trials on this product have yet to be conducted. They still need to determine if adverse cardiovascular reactions could occur in patients using this drug. How many people will face cardiac complications?
I’m one of the many Americans struggling with my weight. I’ve been on and off the chub train for as long as I can remember. I’ve taken the quick-fix, drastic measures that I thought would help me “just get to my ideal weight and then everything will be fine.” But guess what? Even if I did reach my ideal size quickly, I shot right back up to my “before” size just as quickly, if not quicker! Sure, I’d have a blast taking pictures and sporting my “goal-size” outfits, but it was all smoke and mirrors. The sadness and self-doubt were still there, they were just hidden by my temporary confidence and my size four Abercrombie jeans (which ALWAYS seem to run small, am I right?). I over-ate when I was stressed, sad, happy (let’s celebrate!) and bored. Sure, it’s super adorable when Liz Lemon does it. I absolutely love her for making my embarrassing habits seem normal and funny. However, those habits stop being cute after a 20 lb weight gain.
Here’s something else that sucks, you can never take food out of the equation. Drug addicts can slowly work on removing themselves from situations where drugs are present. We NEED food for basic survival. The key is learning your triggers, understanding the reasons behind them and working hard to resist your urges. You will hear nutritionists and fitness trainers say that you can’t think about reaching your ideal weight through dieting. You have to see it as a “lifestyle change” because it’s a process that never ends. You need to see the way you eat as how you’ll eat for the rest of your life. So, don’t set yourself up for failure by creating unrealistic goals. Don’t look for the easy way out. The only way out of this obesity crisis is to head right into the eye of the storm and get people to figure out why they turn to food to fill a void. We don’t need a magic pill. We need more support. We need more guidance. We need to work harder. Most of us are struggling here. Let’s not isolate ourselves in a dark room with a pill bottle and let’s figure this out. Together.
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