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A Diet Rant...

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goblyn

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A Diet Rant...
« on: March 23, 2010, 07:43:33 AM »

I don't quite know why, but lately the commercials for Alli are really REALLY starting to bug me.  What's weird is that they've been around for a while, but for some reason they're really really bothering me (I think it might be my newly acquired respect for high fat diets).

For those who aren't aware, Alli is an over the counter weight loss suppliment that works by preventing your body from absorbing fat.  The big hype, in the US, is that Alli is the first over the counter weight loss aid endorsed by the food and drug administration (of the US).  What they don't tell you is that the unabsorbed fat has to go somewhere, and for most people, it becomes incredibly unpleasant diarrhea and oily discharge (from your butt!).  Gross, I know, and also the subject of several pretty hilarious blog posts and stand up routines I've seen in recent years.

But poop aside, why is nobody addressing the obvious here?  Your body NEEDS fat to function properly.  On one hand we have the FDA telling us to take alli and eat an almost entirely fat free diet (because that's the way you avoid the "treatment effects") and on the other hand we have the Heart Association recommending omega 3 suppliments.  Its scientifically proven that fat free diets lead to breakdown of brain tissue.  And yet the FDA is telling us  the same old myth:  fat makes you fat.  Its like living in the US you have to wear blinders and just ignore what is going on in other countries.  In Europe they eat incredibly high amounts of fat (compared to the recommended US diets) and look how skinny they are!  (the same argument goes for health care reform and a million other issues that the US would like us to ignore, but that's another post entirely). 

But instead of giving us a healthy way to lose weight, the FDA approves a drug that can lead to deterioration of your brain.  I suppose as long as you're skinny, its okay to be a vegetable.  I don't know the reasoning behind that, though I suspect that money is the bottom line, as it usually is in the US. 

So now every time Winona Judd comes on the screen telling me about how wonderful Alli is I just get so angry!  I wish the medical association would jump on this and let the public know how terrible it is. 

But then I realize, who could possibly stay on Alli long enough to even get brain damage?  How long can you take shitting your pants against your own will before you give up.  My mom got some Alli, she was one of the very first people to try it.  She did it for exactly one weekend.  One weekend of spending most of her day in the bathroom, and that was enough for her.  My bf's mom bought some last summer and it sat on her kitchen counter for the year because after reading the fine print she was too scared to take it. 

And that takes me back to something I realized long ago (while in high school) but then forgot.  Most diets are not made for fat people.  Those of us with a significant amount of weight to lose would have to stay on any diet for such a long time that it would be detrimental to our health.  No, the diet industry is made for people with hardly any weight at all to lose.  Gyms do not get created for fat people, they are created for skinny people to stay skinny.  For skinny people to show off their hot bodies to other skinny people.  Just look at how most gyms are set up.  Instead of privacy while sweating, you are in this huge room with several other people, all machines usually face towards the center of the room (at least in the gyms I have been in) so that you are always going to be looking at someone else working out and someone will be looking at you.

Diets are not made for people to lose more than 10 lbs or so.  Even weight watchers, the diet most praised by the US as the most healthy option, is not created for long term use.  Yes, I suppose you could starve for 10 years and maybe eventually lose weight on it, or you could just do what the diet is meant to do, stay on it for a month, lose the 10 lbs you gained during the winter and go back to the beach and show off how hot you are, all the while praising how effective weight watchers was.

This is why Kirstie Alley failed on Jenny Craig and Valerie Bertinelli succeded.  Valerie had a much smaller amount to lose, and from the sounds of it was combating no more than just the cruelty of menopause on her metabolism, whereas Kirstie Alley was combating several psychological eating disorders combined with genetic predisposition.

But these diets never bother trying to help the obese person.  Instead we're just made to feel like failures when the diet stops working, or we can no longer take being the fattest person in the gym, or crapping ourselves in public.  Why if this super fit lady over here had success then everyone should be able to.

I recently read in one of my cookbooks that Julia Child, proponent of high fat gourmet coooking would sometimes feel the need to diet, as she'd suddenly put on some weight.  So for a week or so she'd limit her caloric intake and voila, she'd be back to normal.  At no time did Julia Child find herself 100 lbs overweight with years of 1000 calorie dieting in front of her.

Almost every diet operates on the same principle, great for someone who wants to lose small amounts of weight in small amounts of time.  But what long term effects are there?

Well, for one, this type of dieting makes you fatter!  When I was growing up my mom, in all her inability to nuture without food (I love my mom, but her eating habits and mothering style are toxic, and she's the first to admit it), fed me a steady diet of sugary soda, prepraed meals, cheap artificially flavored/textured/created dessert cakes, chips, candy, and white flour and sugar based products.  And I was a fat kid.  Sure.  When I graduated high school I probably weighed somewhere around what I weigh now.  Then in college I put on the good old freshman 15 (and then some) but around my sophomore year I decided I'd combat it with a low fat vegetarian diet.  And so I lost a few lbs, then could no longer do that diet so I put on another 10 lbs.  Then I tried weight watchers, again lost 20 lbs, and gained back 30.  Then Atkins, same story.  Until I reached the point a year ago (well more than that now) when I weighed 285 lbs.  And I totally blame that on the never ending cycle of restricting and then gorging. 

I'm so glad I found SLD, but I can't help but go back to these Alli ads and wonder what possible motivation our government has for approving a diet drug that is set up to fail, and either turn us into skinny stupid people or, more likely, just make us fatter.  I don't understand and its making me so damn ANGRY!!!!!!!!

Ugh!

Sorry, I just really wanted to get that off my chest!
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nougat

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Re: A Diet Rant...
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2010, 08:17:03 AM »

so true goblyn!
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Pip

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Re: A Diet Rant...
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2010, 09:11:32 AM »

Totally agree. I looked into the alli thing when it first came out. Basically, in order to have no poopy side effects you have to eat pretty much 0 fat. But if you are eating 0 fat, why do you need to buy alli then? Not to mention the health risks of eating 0 fat and taking an unnecessary drug. Seemed pretty stupid to me.
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TalkingRat

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Re: A Diet Rant...
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2010, 05:12:02 PM »

Alli reduces fat absorption by 25%, so it's not likely anybody is going to be fat deprived.  The guideline recommends you take vitamins and omega3 supplements at least two hours before taking Alli, so it appears to have a very short term effect.  The FDA does not recommend drugs, they are basically saying it is not unacceptably dangerous.  Tthe 'treatment effects' would be enough to make most people who eat fatty meals take it easy, and follow the 15 g. per meal guideline, and thus show a positive effect on weight loss.  IIRC, the OTC version is half strength.  I know a few people online who used the Rx version and found it helpful.  Those who have tried it OTC seem less satisfied.  I'm not sure why that is, although people may be more likely to follow Rx instructions, or to show more caution with the Rx version, or be better prepared with the personal attention doctor and pharmacist provided.  And people usually assume that what the doctor gives them will work, so they may be slower to give up.

IMO, diets often fail because there are rarely constants in a person's life.  Food, stress, sleep, level of activity, and consistency of routine change.  It isn't as simple as giving someone a diet and knowing it will be followed unfailingly and that nothing else in life will influence the diet's success.
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goblyn

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Re: A Diet Rant...
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2010, 05:48:27 AM »

But my point is that "diets" are set up to fail, and the one approved diet drug is also set up to fail, because diets are not created with obese people in mind, but rather people who only need to diet for a short period of time to lose weight.  Occasionally a truly obese person can use a diet and lose weight, but it takes a good deal more determination than humans are equipped to handle.
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nougat

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Re: A Diet Rant...
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2010, 10:19:13 AM »

you're right goblyn :(
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TalkingRat

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Re: A Diet Rant...
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2010, 11:57:10 AM »

But my point is that "diets" are set up to fail, and the one approved diet drug is also set up to fail, because diets are not created with obese people in mind, but rather people who only need to diet for a short period of time to lose weight.  Occasionally a truly obese person can use a diet and lose weight, but it takes a good deal more determination than humans are equipped to handle.

Well, maybe I am still missing your point.  But Alli was developed for, and originally restricted to, obese-only patients and as a prescription, provided ample evidence of effectiveness and safety.  The FDA's 'motivation' is to keep ineffective and unsafe drugs off the market.  They regulate, which is definitely not the same thing as a government 'recommendation.'   I don't see any federal branch recommending Alli.  IMO, Alli is not a diet, and not intended to be used as an alternative to a change in eating patterns.

Nearly every Rx drug that causes rapid weight loss is short-term, since the mechanism for loss doesn't stop working when a healthy weight is achieved.  The idea is to get patients away from a dangerously unhealthy state as quickly as possible, while at the same time starting to focus on the slower, long term solution.  I don't know of any assisted weight loss drug that doesn't require a second, different solution for maintaining weight long term.  For me, SLD was not a long term solution; I gained back most of what I lost while still on SLD, and averaging 1650 calories a day (including ELOO) amounted to a pound a week gain.  Obviously I lost something that made it work originally.  I think I'm just missing some element that would make it work for me, and I intend to keep working at it until I figure out what that is.

If the FDA refused to allow safe Rx products to become OTC, people would turn to more risky solutions.  Even after the feds shut down Fen Phen and Fen Phen-like products, online dealers still sold pills that could be combined with caffeine and antihistamines for a similar effect, and when the feds gave those sellers 30 days to shut down, people hurried to stock up, despite the obvious health risks.  If they stop attempting to regulate, that won't make things any better.

The other branches of government have given us nutritional recommendations for as long as I can remember.  But no matter what guidelines they settle on, they will not work for everyone. 
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goblyn

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Re: A Diet Rant...
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2010, 05:57:08 AM »

Are you an FDA lawyer TalkingRat?   :lol:

The distinction between approval and recommendation is a mute point when it comes to the public at large.  Sure the government isn't recommending the drug, but Alli's advertising campaign certainly makes a big deal out of it being approved by the FDA.  And how many people have tried (and failed) Alli simply because the FDA approved it.

I believe the FDA has, in the past, approved many drugs that were totally detrimental to the health of the taker.  But that's not really my point.

My point is that Alli is set up to fail.  It is, as you say, a short term solution.  And that's the problem right there.  Nobody in the diet industry (and if you don't think that there is a diet INDUSTRY then you're not paying attention, there are plenty of people making a killing off of keeping people in the fat/diet/lose/gain cycle) cares about the long term effects.  Ideally they'd like to see you lose a bunch of water weight, fall off the system and then get back on the horse (which is why weight watchers has an initial enrollment fee, as does Jenny Craig and a few other "diet plans").

My problem with diets in general is that they all make false promises to the consumer.  The same thing with workout routines, gyms, and diet drugs.  Instead of actually helping people, they make the problem worse.  The only people they help, are the people who could easily do it on their own (as I mentioned before, people who gain some winter pudge and have to lose it by bikini season, more than likely could easily just cut their calories, or better yet, the refined carbs, beer, late night snacks, etc). 

And what's worse is that some of these people with nothing to lose get so wrapped up in the idea of dieting that they ruin their metabolisms.  How many people do you know who were skinny and just didn't care about their eating habits, then put on a little weight (say from a prescription drug that made them gain as a side effect, or pregnancy, or because they still drink like a college student), and became diet crazy, yoyoing back and forth from diet to diet and now completely unable to stay at a normal weight?

My ex brother in law is an alcoholic, so he goes through these cycles where he puts on a beer gut, then crash diets to lose it, which worked for him all through his 20's.  However, now he's gotten past the point where that works for him and he loses a little bit, and then gains like crazy.  The last time I saw him he went from having a perfect physique to being soft and pudgy all over, so I wouldn't be suprised if his metabolism is now broke.

So yeah, as jaded as it sounds, I feel like there is a conspiracy afoot...
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August

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Re: A Diet Rant...
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2010, 10:39:48 AM »

Over time, regulatory agencies become protection agencies for the very industries they are supposed to represent.  The FDA never gets into trouble when they fail to protect consumers; in fact, government agencies usually get more money when they fail!  It's only natural that they hire people from the business, and when people leave the FDA, they tend to go back into the business.  There isn't a point to these sort of regulatory agencies- they just cost us more money and give established companies an unfair advantage over newer companies.

This is true even in cases where the 'regulation' is an outright ban.  The increased risk gives the bootlegger (drug dealer, arms dealer, raw milk provider)  a near monopoly and he can charge higher prices, while the Baptists (or whoever is shouting out the moral argument)
gets to sound all holy and stuff.  http://files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/y2007/Yandleregulation.mp3

I was pretty aggravated about this stuff too, especially when I realized how self-defeating all the exercise advice I had been getting was.  Commercials where annoying, and now I don't even watch T.V.- when the digital switchover came, I didn't feel I had much reason to get the necessary tech in order to continue watching.  Now it just looks insane.
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