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The Obesity Epidemic in America and the Newly FDA Approved Diet Drug

Author: Josh Hodnik

With one third of the country’s population considered obese and another third overweight, America has been labeled the fattest country in the world. You cannot drive to an intersection in most cities without seeing a McDonalds, Burger King, or some other fast food chain. It is estimated that McDonalds pulls in over $15 billion annually, and while these fat food establishments (as I like to call them) are pulling in record profits, the pharmaceutical companies are filling their greedy little pockets while the number of people taking prescription drugs are at an all time high to try to compensate for the ill effects that accompany poor nutrition.

With over 100 million Americans considered obese, and 300,000 obesity related deaths each year, medical spending has sky rocketed. With the current economic woes and upcoming election, healthcare has been a strong focal point. There is a major problem with medical costs, and every American, obese or not is paying the bill.

In February of this year and advisory panel for the FDA voted 20-2 in favor of approving the weight loss drug Qsymia. This is the first time in 13 years that a drug has been approved by the FDA for weight loss. This approval drew both praise and criticism, reflecting concerns over the drug’s side effects as well as the need to give patients more choices beyond diet, exercise, and bariatric surgery.

Trials using Qsymia showed on average a 10% reduction in weight while many users experienced side effects such as increased heart rate, suicidal thoughts or behavior, and development of eye problems, such as glaucoma or an increased pressure in the eye due to fluid blockage. People who take Qsymia also run the risk of having difficulty with attention and concentration, memory and word-finding.

Shares of Vivus, the maker of Qsymiarose $4.34 following the press release of this new drug. This shows confidence that this weight loss drug will be highly prescribed and will be relied on for a weight loss solution by the medical community.

We all drive cars that require us to fuel and maintain. Waiting until your car is completely out of oil before an oil change or putting something in the gas tank besides gasoline will obviously cause damage, and would seem illogical to do by any American. So why do we put foods in our body that cause disease, cancer, and obesity? We are only given one body, and the average American will treat and maintain their car much better than their own body.

The medical community’s knowledge and use of nutrition as prevention or treatment of obesity and other diseases is very limited. Medical doctors are taught to push prescription drugs to treat obesity and sickness. The United States accounts for almost half of the global pharmaceutical market, with $289 billion in annual sales. With this kind of money involved, never will there be any type of government funded program to teach the population about proper nutrition and prevention of obesity. The pharmaceutical and medical community profits from Americans being sick and overweight.

Now aside from the pharmaceutical side of things, let’s take a look at the food industry.  The fast food industry generated a revenue of $6 billion in 1970, and has jumped to over $150 billion in annual sales today. In 1970 the obesity rate was under 15% and today it is over 35%. This shows a correlation between the American diet today and the obesity epidemic. You would think that with 300,000 deaths a year related to obesity and obesity being related to poor diet that primarily comes from fast food and high fat, sugar packed foods found on grocery store shelves, there would be something done to teach people how to eat properly to avoid obesity and disease. Again, the food industry is very profitable just like the pharmaceutical industry, and when there is this kind of money involved it will always exist.

Even though genetics do play a role in obesity and disease, it is a very small role, with environment playing the biggest role. We are all taught how and what to eat at a very young age. You will pick up habits including habits of nutrition and activity levels from the people that raised you. This is why you will often see overweight parents with overweight kids. It is easy to blame being obese on genetics rather than admit that you have eaten a poor diet your entire life.

When you eat a diet high in saturated fats and sugar, while not eating lean protein and vegetables you will become obese. There is just no way around it, and this will eventually lead to a life filled with disease and eventually a premature death.

While nutrition has taken a backseat in our culture, we have become the fattest country on the planet with two-thirds of the population being obese or overweight. There is no drug or surgery that can compensate for eating poorly. The newly approved Qsymia seems to be the FDA’s solution to the obesity problem in America. This drug will do nothing for obesity and will just line a pharmaceutical company’s pockets.

We all have a choice in what foods we consume. There is no pill or fad diet available that will replace eating a diet primarily of lean protein and green vegetables. Americans have learned to live to eat instead of eating to live. Eating properly to fuel the body with nutrients it needs and cutting out the sugar and saturated fats that are not needed will lead to a life that will be void of obesity, disease, and ongoing medical costs.

 

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