Monday, July 19, 2010

Moments. Days. Future.

The race for FDA approval of the next great drug to fight obesity continues. Last week, an FDA advisory committee voted against endorsing the next drug in the approval pipeline, Qnexa. There are at least two more medications currently vying for FDA approval. The potential value of a newly approved obesity drug? Big, big dollars. In 2009 alone, the over-the-counter drug Alli sold over $370 million and the prescription version, Xenical, hit $345 million in sales. Pharmaceutical companies are spending huge amounts of R&D money to find the next big hit. Will any of them work? least for a time and before they start causing unintended consequences like heart attacks and death.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Over and over again, day after day, we make choices that are harmful to our health. Americans are literally killing themselves with food and inactivity. We inherently know we should eat real food and get some exercise everyday and yet only 34% of people claim they get the recommended amount of exercise each day.

Enter the people who claim eating well and getting exercise is a poverty problem. And, yes it is. For people living at or below the poverty level the money and time required to exercise each day and eat wholesome foods is difficult to come by. However, the data don't add up to the enormity of our problem. According to the Census Bureau 13.2% of people were living below the Federal poverty level in 2008. For the same period the CDC reported obesity rates at 26.1%. Further, it reports 68% of all adults were overweight. Poverty isn't the only problem. If it were there would be plenty of money in the healthcare system to help the poor overcome their weight problems. I contend we would be able to send all of those living below the poverty level free, nutritious meals each week for the amount of money the healthcare system wouldn't spend on the rest of the overweight and obese.

The solution is so simple, it simply isn't. We simply have to stop. We know our bodies don't feel good after indulging in fast food. We know we should turn off the television and go outside for a walk each evening. We know colas and other beverages laden with sugar and sugar-substitutes are not good for us. And yet, we continue. Some of us are in denial and others justify the "just one" every hour of every day.

Yes, it is possible someone, somewhere will come up with a magic pill to erase all of our bad health choices. If that day comes, I'll wait 50 years for all of the side effects to pan out and then I'll write an apology letter. Until then, we can make better choices. Day after day, moment by moment, you can build health and wellness. We believe in you.

"Your future depends on many things, but mostly on you."
Frank Tyger

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