The Associated Press: FDA to review first of 3 new weight loss drugs
USDA Report: Taxing Caloric Sweetened Beverages
No, no, NO! Why should this even be an option? Leave it to the American pharmaceutical companies to make it their very duty in life to get people hooked on "miracle pills" for literally the most minor of "ailments", even though most of these medications prove to be addictive and come with scary side effects.
The so-called obesity "epidemic" in our country has created many concerns in recent years, not only in the healthcare arena, but in the political world as well. The number of fat people has risen greatly, and the costs of medical care for these people takes a significant chunk out of everyone else's healthcare budget, and with our economy the way it is, governments are looking to cut the fat. Our nanny-state legislators see fit to tax, regulate, and ban certain ingredients in food as well as entire products, such as soda, which is currently being taxed in a handful of states, with several more states and the federal government considering similar taxes for the future. Michelle Obama has even made childhood obesity the target of her "First Lady Mission" (or whatever it's called). But is obesity really the medical problem it's been played out to be? Should we be offering pills for this? And the even bigger political question: why should all consumers be taxed for these goods when obese people are the minority? Isn't that taxation without representation?
First I'll target the taxes...most governments that are choosing to place fees on soda are also extending the extra charge to any beverage containing sugar...that means Gatorade, <100% fruit juice, and even chocolate milk. The inclusion of sports drinks particularly frustrates me; in my youth I was a very competitive swimmer, and consistently purchased Gatorade in massive volumes for grueling 3-day meets. Luckily the tax wasn't in effect back then, or else I would have been charged for partaking in activity that encourages the exact opposite of obesity! This is the main problem: that the fees are nondiscriminatory--you could be Paris Hilton and the "obesity tax" would still apply. This leads to an age-old democratic problem: taxation without representation. If obese people are the minority, why should I be taxed if I'm physically fit? Haven't I earned my right to drink some soda by working out and leading a basically healthy lifestyle? My answer is yes. While studies have been done to determine whether or not the tax could actually reduce consumption and/or obesity in general, the point remains that the entire populace should not be penalized for the acts of few, and I expect to see more uprising on the subject in the future in states where the tax has gone into effect.
As far as obesity as a medical ailment goes, I strongly disagree with the notion that being overweight is a sickness. While it most definitely leads to severe health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, etc., I feel like people have forgotten that obesity is one of the most preventable of all medical problems. There is no substitute for balanced diet and exercise. The only exception I acknowledge is the rare case in which gastric-bypass surgery is needed to fix pre-existing digestive problems. By subsidizing irresponsible lifestyle choices and classifying poor diet as an "epidemic", America has sent the message that there is no cure for fat, which there most definitely is and has been since the dawning of our species. Whether or not these people want to take the initiative to stay fit, it's not the government's duty to control aspects of the food industry, nor should it be the taxpayer's duty to foot the bill for their thoughtless and preventable "condition". It's the sole responsibility of parents and individuals to eat right and get at least minimal physical exercise--we owe it to our bodies.
The medications set before the FDA for consideration this week are even scarier than I imagined. According to the AP article above, two of the three proposed treatments are a mixture of amphetamines and anti-convulsants. Oh yes, that sounds extremely healthy for a person that already displays lack of personal control. Since when is it okay for police to roll around impounding marijuana while highly addictive amphetamines are praised by federal agencies and mass-produced by big pharma? Patients in research studies of these drugs had high dropout rates because of memory and cognitive impairment. That really sounds like something people should be taking in the morning before they drive to work. Furthermore, obesity pills of the past have faced lawsuits and recalls for high risk of heart attack, permanent liver damage, and even anal leakage (gross). If these medications are approved by the FDA, it will prove just how short-sighted and profit-driven our federal agencies and beloved pharmaceutical corporations really are--they're the largest drug cartel on the planet, operating 100% legally within our borders and getting people hooked on pills and rushed to the ER for fatal overdoses by the thousands. They'll continue to do this as long as Americans keep messing up their bodies and looking for the easy way out. I've got a solution for America's obese: Get off the couch and put the McDonald's down.
On a brighter note, check out this pharma company from the UK who has just landed on our turf and has some REAL ideas on effective medical treatment: GW Pharmaceuticals--Creator of Sativex