Give ’em a drug

Recent research on mice has revealed a drug that may burn fat and make you more healthy (able to run on the hamster wheel longer) even when you’re a couch potato.  And there are cases where such a drug would be potentially necessary, in particular when people suffer from joint pain or risks of heart failure and are less able to get regular exercise.  Still, it seems like a patch rather than a real rehabilitation.

There are plenty of reasons why a person might not get the exercise they need outside of adverse medical conditions – emotional, financial, educational.  Even in the case of medical reasons, I wonder if a pill like this (especially in the case of widespread use) would become a slapdash ‘cure’.  If someone who does not exercise regularly is overweight, do doctors just prescribe the pill-of-the-month?  Or do we look at the possibility of  depression, thyroid imbalance, or the lifestyle of a single mom working three part-time jobs and scarfing burgers in her 30 minute lunch breaks?  How do we analyze cause and effect?

If we are dedicated to really testing the effects of this drug over the long term, I think that’s fine.  A slow introduction to the market and use only on a highly personalized case-by-case basis I think would be beneficial.  True, lives could be saved with a drug like this.  But, for the moment, we don’t know that for certain, and I would hate to see even the possiblity of a miracle cure make us complacent.

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Doctor claims “metabo sounds more inclusive than obesity”

Thanks to Cristen for the link.

The word “obese”, while not as aggressive and hurtful as ‘fat’, still has very negative connotations. There are associated ideas of a lack of health, a lack of self control, and can even be connected with the obtuseness of an individual. Classifying a person as obese, despite the best intentions of healthcare professionals, is a blow to the self esteem. Telling someone they need to lose pound for their own health is a blow, and not always true. But even worse is demanding a reduction in waistlines across the board, which is what Japan is doing currently.

Of course, with obesity on the rise across the globe, and conditions such as metabolic syndrome (metabo) becoming more frequent, there are definite health risks associated with weight. But putting a definite cap on allowable waistlines is fraught with complications. There has already been one death – a jogger who was part of a group dedicated to avoiding metabo and getting back in shape – due to a heart attack. Was the man pushing himself too hard? Or was it just circumstance? While the new guidelines might give doctors the opportunity to talk more easily about prevention of specific diseases like metabo (rather than about obesity generally), a specific waistline goal doesn’t seem to be realistic. A focus on being healthy is more than a measurement, no matter that the government can’t judge such as focus accurately or quickly. Starting a new healthier lifestyle requires more effort, and will always be more complex.