Is The FDA Keeping Us Fat?

Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. A Gallup poll found that 86% of full-time workers are overweight. A report in Health Affairs by Kenneth Thorpe, shows that 7% weight loss in just a small segment of the older adult population (60-64 year olds) could save Medicare as much as $15 billion. And the savings could be up to $35 billion if those individuals lost 10% of their body weight.

Despite this, last year the FDA rejected three new obesity therapies — Qnexa, Contrave, and Lorqess — the most promising of which, Qnexa, has been shown to bring about sustained weight loss greater than 10% of a person’s body weight. The FDA wanted additional evidence of the drugs were safe and effective in the short term; and evidence showing long-term weight loss. The rub is that the ingredients in two of the three therapies are known to be safe — they’re already FDA approved and widely available for treating migraines, depression, and other conditions. The first of the three drug makers is now going back to try again, having resubmitted its application for FDA approval.

Arguably, the main reason the FDA is hesitant to approve an obesity drug is because it considers nothing as safe for controlling weight as diet and exercise. However, diet and exercise generally fail. And there are few medications available — most of which are ineffective. That leaves surgery, a drastic step for many with a relatively high risk of death.

Without prescription weight-loss drugs, people turn to over-the-counter remedies, many of which are not very safe either. These include highly-caffeinated energy drinks that can raise blood pressure and herbal remedies bought on the Internet, many of which come from China and actually contain active ingredients that have been banned by the FDA.

Comments (14)

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  1. Brian says:

    I’m big consumer of herbs. I don’t know what all I’ve used that’s been made by the Chi-coms, but I probably should check.

  2. Zach says:

    “Diet and exercise generally fail”?

    Since when? Seems like weight loss, like most other medical/financial issues could be solved principally by personal responsibility.

  3. Brian says:

    I believe that the only role the FDA should have is in food/drink safety, issuing advice/warnings to consumers, and making sure sellers are not false advertising. They should have any role in taking things off the market, making items restricted, etc..

    Let people decide for themselves what they want to eat and drink. The FDA has become too powerful.

  4. Buster says:

    I don’t think the FDA is making us fat. I think too many McDonalds cheeseburgers are making us fat. Zach is correct that nothing can take the place of personal responsibility. I suspect that what little willpower overweight people currently have would go out the window if they were offered a diet pill. There is no way a drug can counter the ability of Americans to stuff their faces. I’ve lost about 15% of my bodyweight during the past several years. I did it by watching what I ate, counting calories and hitting the gym a couple times each week.

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    I’ve seen some obesity research where scientists are experimenting with electrodes inserted in the stomach lining to send a signal to the brain of an obese individual when they are full. I’ve talked to people who are overweight and they’ve told me they don’t get a signal to their brain that they are full. They also can eat another full meal within an hour of the last meal. If I tried that my food would literally not taste good to me.

  6. Chris says:

    It is important to remember that BMI is a flawed metric and studies that use it to identify who is overweight/obese should be viewed through that lens.

    Body fat percentage testing is a far better metric and the one any government agency or serious academic researcher should be using. BMI is only slightly more scientifically credible than a horoscope.

  7. Giuilliana says:

    Why can’t people exercise and eat healthy and responsibly? why should everything be blamed on the government?

  8. Henry GrosJean says:

    Along with Giulliana’s comment the two words that would put the billion dollar weight loss industry out of business would be “diet and exercise” which is too simple a solution in today’s world. There is no magic pill or tv-marketed exercise machine that will cause a weight loss. I’m 65 and hike the Grand Canyon every year so I have little empathy for the obese.

  9. Studebaker says:

    If someone doesn’t get a signal to their brain indicated the feeling of being sated, by can’t they count the calories they consume manually? It’s really very simple. Load your plate with a specific number of calories and stop when it’s gone. No diet pill is going to counteract a second plate of food.

  10. Joe S. says:

    The apparent FDA policy is absurd.

  11. Brian says:

    Yes, Joe, many FDA policies are absurd.

    And I just noticed that I left out the word *not* in the following sentence:

    “They should have any role in taking things off the market, making items restricted, etc.. “

  12. Amber Jones says:

    This is not as simple as saying, “Why can’t people just do what they’re supposed to do?” I agree with taking personal responsibility, but I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here.

    Why do smokers continue to smoke even though they know smoking will eventually kill them? Because they are addicted. There is such a thing as food addiction, and it is very real in America today and not as uncommon as people may think.

    The food industry knows that “highly-palatable” foods — ones that contain sugar, salt and fat — are as addicting to the human brain as alcohol and drugs. Think about that. Sugar is more addictive than cocaine:

    I’m not saying that, despite this, people should not take responsibility for their weight and optimal health. But the fact remains that there is a reason why obesity in America is an epidemic. It all starts with how our food is produced.

    Bottom line is: No matter what FDA policies are, they’re just a symptom of a larger problem.

  13. Ermantrude says:

    All good points but I contend that the main culprit is microwaves. Yes, microwaves! The obesity epidemic started when we all got 24/7 access to instant food. We expected it in and away from home and the restaurant industry was happy to oblige. If you had to wait nearly an hour for the oven to heat up your TV Dinner, would you eat every time you thought about it?

  14. Trismantio says:

    I’m aisnkg this question because as you may assume at 11:50pm my vet is closed. I have done 2 xrays on her both alittle to early to see anything. Ive been breeding,showing and raising this breed for 20yrs. And this female has thrown me for a loop. Even though she is only 40ish days pregnant her boobs are filled with milk she had a normal clear discharge (still does) throughout her pregnancy. Her tum was getting firm and she gained a heathly 18lbs she was lazy did not have much energy and wanted nothing to do with our male stud. Well now she has lost weight in the past few days, she has regained all her energy and her tum feels more flabby now, she also for the first time in over a month is playing and being hyper with our male again. She eats a high quality organic dog food (taste of the wild) 32% protien, 19% fat. (we also feed raw, but we have switched her to kibble for the pups, also raw, and she drinks goats milk daily) I am thinking she may reasborbed the pups, i dont think she miscarried due to hte fact she is showing no signs of a miscarriage. She was pregnant the vet said he did not feel any pups, but her swollon abdoman and weight gain was a great sign (capt. obviouse/lol) i still hear no heart beats, and feel no pups my self (even though i try not to feel too hard i dont want to harm any pups) i WILL be taking her to the vet tomorrow morning, i just wanted other opinions on here for S’s and G’s.well she had adboman weight gain, girth. and my vet said she was pregnant due to her weight gain. im not 110% it wasnt a false pregnancy but she did tie up twice with our male, She had milk (which could be false pregnancy) but with the still swollon vagina, and her energy lose im pretty sure it wasnt a false pregwell raven, i sent off for her ADBA papers as well, i have plenty of people to speak too, ive spoken with them i merely came on here to get opinions your’s if as valued as someone elses. She has won best female a number of times, coming in first place in UKC shows a number of times, (its all a point system) i got skin cancer and have been rather sick i was unable to continue taking her but have recently statred back in the past 3 months.She has won best over all, best female, best blue, best conditions, and highest weight for her class.. all 4x+=) who pissed in your cornflakes hunnyYea but due to 2 xrays and vet exam she was/is pregnant, so that is why i am confused about the false pregnancy ive had dogs with false pregnancies before, but usually if its a false one they dont carry this long, and dont gain this much weight, and dont have a swollon vagina and have no discharge (as if they were pregnant)