|Afternoon sun peaking through the fall leaves in our backyard|
This morning I got a twofer. I sometimes watch the NBC nightly news podcast to keep current in the US, and this morning (or last night, I guess) they ran a story on a potential new weight loss drug in the works. Of course my ears perked up. Not because I'm a fan of weight loss drugs, just the opposite in fact.
The monkey trials showed that the drug can work, as overweight monkeys lost weight by losing body fat and body fat alone (an interesting development as even if you lose weight "the old fashioned way" you will lose some muscle mass). Lean monkeys did not lose weight, suggesting that the drug really is selective for fat cells.
Sounds great right? Well, as they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For one thing, safety and effectiveness in humans has not been tested yet. And one has to wonder what the side-effects might be from a drug that kills fat cells. (FYI- in traditional weight loss fat cells don't die. They shrink. And are ready and waiting to fill back up with fat- which is why its so hard to not gain the weight back). Everything in the body is interconnected; what happens if we start selectively killing off one component? They don't know yet. I'm not sure I would want to test that theory on myself.
Also, when the monkeys stopped taking the drug they gained the weight back. In the NBC story they correctly pointed out that the drug could help kick start weight loss, but that for true and lasting weight loss we would still need to stick to the tried and true methods of healthy eating and exercise.
Drug companies are searching for the holy grail of weight loss drugs, and according to the NBC story, people are lining up in anticipation of this drug. A quick fix. Quick fixes don't work for weight loss. And as we keep searching for the easy way out tried and true methods that require hard work and dedication are getting pushed aside.
If you can't tell already, I'm not a fan of weight loss drugs. I believe they present an easy solution that makes it possible to forget about health as a whole. Weight loss is great, but if you're not eating properly and exercising you will forgo many other health benefits.
What struck me the most is that this weight loss drug is still in animal trials, and yet its making headline prime time news. ABC also ran a story about it (from what I can tell online). As a nation with nearly two-thirds of the population overweight or obese this is not surprising.
But I hope we don't get too focused on developing new drugs and forget that there are already methods out there to lose weight that work. Sure they're not easy -- you have to completely change your lifestyle to really lose weight -- but they are safe and effective. So far weight loss drugs haven't fared as well.