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New weight loss drug approved by the FDA; cure or fad?

New weight loss drug approved by the FDA to be available to the general market in 4-6 months.
New weight loss drug approved by the FDA to be available to the general market in 4-6 months.

Over 35% of the US is diagnosed as obese with a BMI of 30 or higher. That’s more than 1/3 of all adults. The fastest growing group of those diagnosed is children. The CDC estimates the medical costs associated with obesity at $147 billion dollars and those statistics are three years old. Some call it a crisis or an epidemic others a matter of will and habit change. So how do we solve the issue that close to half our population in the US, 29% in Indiana are obese? How do we put a stop to the rising costs of healthcare related to preventable conditions?

The FDA has put their stamp of approval on a new drug that supports weight loss. The drug Lorcaserin is the first weight loss drug to be approved since 1999. Loracaserin or Belviq is said to target serotonin receptors in the brain and those that deal with feelings of fullness.The medication was approved for "chronic weight management in adult patients" with a body mass index greater than 30, or for those with a BMI of 27 or above. They must also have been diagnosed with at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or Type 2 diabetes.

The FDA strongly recommends that the drug be paired with a nutrition and exercise program, the safety and effectiveness of the drug when used alongside other diet medications has not been verified. This drug was previously turned down by the FDA over concern that animal trials showed possible tumor growth associated with long term use. Reportedly the drug makers have gone back and conducted extensive testing with no conclusive evidence that tumors could be a possible side effect.

With all pharmaceuticals there are risks. When obesity is such a preventable and curable disease is it worth the risk? Research shows that Belviq may only help people lose 5% body weight or as much as 10% over the course of a year. The other question is the long term benefit. Even with more drastic measures such as gastric bypass surgery, people still have the risk on gaining the weight back if they don’t tackle the issues that created the problem of over eating in the first place.

In the end it comes down to a holistic approach to weight loss to increase the likelihood of success; a plan, hard work and support are crucial. If a pharmaceutical can offer folks the short term motivation or incentive to make lifelong lifestyle changes then the drug would be worth it. But if people take a pill thinking that they won’t have to change anything else in their life, the problem only perpetuates. Diet fads come and go usually leaving people with amazing short term results but still neglecting the emotional support and behavioral change strategies that should come along with it. Are people trying to get the quick fox or magic pill to solve their problem or are they just looking for the spark that ignites the change? What’s your opinion on the use of drugs for weight loss?


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