Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why Drugs Won't Work in the Long Run

Thanks to Yoni Freedhoff of Weighty Matters (7-24-10), here is a sensible article about the drug approach to weight loss: "Weight Loss and Wonder Drugs: Something is Fishy."   Dr. David Katz says that when we gain weight on the diet and inactivity of our modern life our bodies are not betraying us but doing exactly what they were meant to do--storing up in time of abundance for a time of want.  The problem is that we never really come to that famine time so we just keep adding to our stores. It's a natural survival mechanism of the body, betrayed by our prosperity.

And when we turn to drugs--to raise our metabolism, to block our hunger, to control our insulin--of necessity we have to introduce powerful pharmaceutical changes to counteract the way our bodies are designed by God (or "Nature" or evolution) to function. And those drugs have potentially and have demonstrated repeatedly to cause very serious side effects. An excerpt:

When one considers that the problem we are asking weight control drugs to fix -- a body turning surplus calories into an energy reserve -- is normal human physiology, the conclusion that they may prove to be elusive not just now, but forever, is hard to avoid. . . .

None of this is to deny the important insights that will doubtless derive from the scrupulous pursuit of scientific details relating to weight control. Rather, it is to note we miss the forest- the fundamentals of human metabolism in native context -- for the densely clustered hormonal, neurochemical, and genetic trees- at our evident peril.

In a word, the ease with which many of us gain weight in our culture (I've noted a lot more heavy brides  lately than when I married 24 years ago, and though I was "overweight" at the time I was slimmer than most of the current chubby brides I'm thinking of.) has a lot to do with our individual responses to our culture. Advertising and abundance can suggest that we really do "deserve a break today" and need to "indulge" and luxuriate in the foods that only kings and queens could have had in years gone by--ice cream, for one! But I think our amazing prosperity can be used to benefit our health if we take advantage of the opportunity and learn to really value the rainbow of produce available at even a modest modern grocery store. I'm learning not to look at the prices of the upscale salads in fast food restaurants because I know that a couple of dollars more will get me a really healthy choice. I deserve THAT break today! And that is part of my survival strategy.


  1. I like the changes you made to the blog. I had to look twice to make sure I was in the right place. ;-)

    This is a topic that is very near to my heart. My hubby's BMI is just below 25 (about 24.8) and everyone we know thinks he is underweight. This is so crazy to me since he is just inside the "normal range". We have talked about this many times and realized that almost everyone we know is overweight or worse. It is just really sad to me. =( I think as a culture we have collectively decided to celebrate with food daily. Worse yet people seem to think they "need" or "deserve" these unhealthy foods. At least this is the feeling I get from our friends that believe we eat a very spartan diet. *rolls eyes*

    Speaking of diet drugs I have a thought to share. My best friend is a pharmacist and I asked him once if diet drugs work. His response was, "if they did you would never see fat pharmacists, doctors and nurses". Great point I thought. The side effects can be deadly. Just my two cents.

    I hope you are having a good weekend,

  2. Thanks, Ali. It's been a good weekend so far. I'm enjoying the video now posted from the recent "getaway" Dr. Fuhrman held. It's encouraging and motivating!

    I took a drug a few years ago for a different problem but had looked forward to the known weight-loss effect of it. Yes, it worked that way, but it also gave me heart palpitations and anxiety. I tried a short course of it again a year or so ago and the bad effects came back almost immediately. I'm done with that one!


I'd love to know what you think of these or if you have suggestions for improvements!