Will Obesity Become The New Cancer

Following trends in my sector always enables me to smell a new wave movement the size of a Tsunami coming.  The first inkling I got were the release of statistics stating that obesity was now costing the NHS £4.2 billion a year alone.  In the US obesity is costing the healthcare system £147 billion a year, obviously this also takes a toll on the overall economy with obesity ridden reports coming in from all over the world.  At one point I remember Michelle Obama stepping up to tackle this issue via childhood obesity.

So we now know that obesity is costing all of us a lot of money but obesity is a disease which we should be respectful of further complicated by the fact it can be either a physical or mental illness, so I’m not sure chucking diet pills at people is the best way forward.  And there’s the reason for this blog, diet pills….

Just how dangerous are these weight loss pills? ” In the space of one month Abbott has recalled Meridia due to quote “very modest weight loss” from taking the drug didn’t justify its risk of heart attack or stroke” we had Arena and Eisai falter at the first hurdle with lorcaserin due to quote “the weight loss…..was marginal” oh and the cancer risk as well.  Already we can see how these recalls and quite frankly dangerous drugs are being reported, the risk is not mitigating the cause.

Then we have the newest diet drug Qnexa from Vivus which was unapproved last week due to heart risk AND birth defects but there is a difference here, in studies the marginal weight loss was 14.7 % compared to 2.5% in the placebo group.  So it works, which would explain the next report that the FDA may now clear Qnexa.

The only other medical condition where this level of risk mitigation is put in place is Cancer.  A life threatening condition of course denotes dangerous side effects particularly in later stages of the disease, the drugs themselves simply aren’t there yet.  Watching the word usage in these FDA approval or non approval reports as it were we can see the wave coming. We can see obesity becoming the new cancer of approval systems in government attempts to stem it’s costs on their economy.

Obesity is costing a lot of money, yes, but so do most diseases, we can’t really put a cost on this can we? We are after all human and illness and disease are part of being human.  With diseases such as cancer there is a risk of losing your life, were the patients in these weight loss studies at risk of developing cancer, harming their foetus or did they have existing heart conditions?.  If the answer is yes to all three then by all means give them the drugs, if the answer is no, then I am more inclined to say this is not a life threatening illness and therefore has no place in such a high risk mitigation drug category.


2 thoughts on “Will Obesity Become The New Cancer

  1. The post contains a lot of very valuable information for those wishing a “miracle” cure for obesity, warning about the danger of weight loss pills, because the obesity problem cannot be solved with a pill.

    Obesity requires a multimodal approach (diet, exercising, psycho-social support,. professional guidance) in order to achieve durable results. Pills and other miracle cures advertised in magazines have “miraculous” results only for the bank accounts of the sellers.

    Obesity might be pathological but for the great majority of cases, it’s the result of lifestyle and psychological problems. The more alarming aspect is obesity in children. Children not only overeat but in additon eat a lot of unhealthy processed foods. I was shocked today to read in the press that children in Crete are obese! Crete, the motherland of much praised frugal Cretan diet has become the host of children obesity.

    Something is definitely wrong in our world! Women should make it their duty to prepare every day meals with fresh vegetables, beans, fish, cheese and from time to time, some lean meat. After all, we are what we eat, as Hippocrates said.

  2. Good points raised, I’ve worked with many patients wanting to lose weight.

    The key factor is having a sense of control or self efficacy in many aspects of their lives and not just weight management.

    The weight gain is a by product of something therefore focusing on what that something is is vital. We tend to see the weight as the problem and therefore the fault of the person when other factors are in play.

    Do drug companies focus on supporting this with their quick fix pills? Do health professionals ask the right questions?

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