Another weight loss gimmick!

The battle of the bulge has been around forever and shows no sign of losing steam.  I saw an article today that reinforces the notion that you can get rid of your bulge without diet and exercise.  Yep, another gimmick.    You can read the story here if you so desire but basically it talks about yet another “non-surgical” method to help reduce fat.

What’s glaringly obvious is that people continue to fall for things like this and don’t realize that diet and exercise is the only way to permanent weight loss.  Yes, some have had success with this latest procedure, but I wonder how their bellies will look a year from now. Hmmmm……  We’ve seen it time and time again with other “procedures” and each time folks have complained that the weight has returned.

The only way to get rid of fat permanently is to change your lifestyle.  That will never change, no matter what “gimmick” is introduced to the market.


Trans Fats No More!

As a native Californian, I’m proud to say that we’ve finally taken the plunge!  As of January 1, 2010 California has banned all restaurants from using trans fats in their cooking – yeah!  You can read the story here for details.  What concerns me, though, is that California is the first STATE to do so.  New York and Philadelphia have done the same, but it’s only a city level, which means citizens in other parts of the state are still exposed to harmful trans fats when they go out to eat….  Doesn’t really make sense to me, but I guess it’s a step in the right direction.

Still, there are those who feel that this is government control.  Personally, I think this is an excellent example of when the government should interfere.  Consider that KFC, Burger King, McDonald’s and Rubios are among those fast food chains that don’t use trans fat in their cooking.  They’ve even conducted internal and external taste tests and no one could tell the difference between the two.   Have you noticed the difference when eating there (I don’t eat fast food so I don’t know).

So if the government wants to take control of a situation that helps my health and it doesn’t make a difference to me (in this case no none could taste the difference) then I say have at it!  My guess is that the reason others haven’t followed suit is that it’s cheaper to use trans fat.  I’ve not heard any evidence of this, but usually when something doesn’t make sense all you have to do is follow the money.

Next up….if we’re lucky it’ll be high fructose corn syrup.

Rx to OTC? What Gives?

Recently, I stumbled across an advertisement for Prevacid24, an over-the-counter proton pump inhibitor used for the treatment of GERD. After seeing the ad – “OTC Prevacid will be on shelves before Thanksgiving heartburn” I thought – “What gives? Isn’t Prevacid available by prescription only?” To answer this question, I turned to the Internet. The information I discovered was actually quite fascinating:

The journey from Rx to OTC…

Pharmaceutical patents have a lifespan of 20 years from the date the patent was filed. As medications near end of their patent, drug companies will often petition the FDA to switch the medication from Rx to OTC status. Why?

Patents are very unique creations. They don’t give the patent holder the right to do something; rather, they prevent others from doing something. When a Rx patent expires, other companies can manufacture the formula as a “generic.” Normally, when a drug goes off patent, its price falls by 25% within the first 6 months; after that, the price is only 20% of what it had been while on patent. Translation: patent expiration can mean a major impact on profits.

While many drug companies employ questionable schemes to protect their sales after patent expiration such as introducing an “extended release” version, or releasing a “new” brand-name that is simply a modification of the old drug, others maintain their slice of the pie by going OTC. (Remember, OTC’s don’t require a visit to the doctor, and are a lot easier for a patient to get their hands on than a generic medication.)

Who decides if a drug should be made OTC?

The FDA regulates OTC medications, just as it regulates prescription pharmaceuticals. In order for the FDA to approve a drug as an OTC, it must find that:

•    The benefits outweigh the risks: In other words, the health benefit from taking the drug is more important than any negative side effects.
•    The drug has a low potential for misuse and abuse. That is, the drug should not be addictive or promote a cheap “high” that may encourage others to overuse it.
•    The consumer can use it for self-diagnosed conditions. In other words, the drug isn’t used for something that requires testing or a doctor’s diagnosis such as high cholesterol. Rather, the drug treats an obvious symptom such as a headache or cough.
•    The drug can be adequately labeled with warnings and instructions for use that are clear and easy to understand without any medical training.
•    The drug does not need a doctor’s supervision.
Since 1975, the FDA has approved 101 ingredients for Rx to OTC status such as Rogaine for hair loss, Aleve for pain, Tagamet for heartburn, and Monistat for vaginal yeast infections; in May, 2009 Prevacid for heartburn was added to this list.

So, what’s the problem?

A few concerns:

•    Many people have the impression that OTC’s are “safer” than their Rx counterparts though this isn’t necessarily the case.
•    The potential for OTC medication abuse is real. One in 10 teens have used OTC cough medicines to get high, and 28% know someone who has tried it. Dex, Skittling, Tussing, Robo-Tripping, Triple Cs, are all slang words used for DXM (dextromethorphan) cough medication abuse.

However, my real “beef” with the Rx to OTC switch is this: lifestyle changes are never addressed when a patient self medicates. Doctors play a vital role in encouraging patients to make healthy lifestyle changes such as exercising, losing weight, kicking the tobacco habit, and eliminating stress.  While I’m all for cutting out the middleman when it comes to retail, I have to draw the line where medications are concerned.

So, how do you feel about the Rx to OTC switch? Yay, or nay? Drop me a line, or share your comments – I’d love to hear your feedback.

Related Posts: A Healthy Shift in Perspective

Lincoln University REQUIRES exercise to graduate!

In what was considered a groundbreaking decision, Lincoln University has proclaimed that all students with a BMI over 30 are REQUIRED to take a fitness class before graduating! What a novel concept!

The only potential problem I can foresee is that they shouldn’t limit the requirement to those with a higher BMI.  Why not make everyone take the course?  Students with a BMI of over 30 have already started complaining and there have even been complaints from those that won’t be required to take the course.  The complaints are just what you’d expect…..adults can make their own decisions….how can the school interfere  with the personal lives of it’s students….if students choose to be fat then let them be fat (not my words).

Yes, adults should be allowed to make their own decisions.  But think of all those people who smoke a pack a day and then sue the tobacco company when they get cancer.  At what point is an adult FULLY responsible for their health?  How can we say something is bad for you (actually prove that it can kill you) and then allow you to sue a company  when what we predicted would come true actually comes true?

The same holds true for obesity.  It’s been proven that obesity can lead to heart disease and  hypertension just to name a few.  In fact, obesity related illnesses costs us billions of dollars each year and shows no signs of stopping!

Okay, so we allow students to be whatever weight that they want.  What happens when they get sick from an obesity related illness….who pays the bill then?

I don’t know the answer here.  Certainly, I think everyone should be allowed to make their own decisions, but as we learn more about how our lifestyle affects our health, isn’t it reasonable to have people take precautions before it gets too late?

What do you think?

Medical Marijuana for Autism!

Yesterday I was in the airport and happened to notice that CNN was running a story on autism (usually there’s some type of sports event on and I couldn’t care less).   Since I know a few kids with autism, I decided it was worth a listen. What I heard was absolutely absurd!   CNN interviewed the mother of an autistic child who claimed that medical marijuana helps her son.  Then, this mother went on to say that any mother would do anything to  help her child.

I’m not a mother, so I can only imagine how painful it is to watch your child suffer from autism or anything else for that matter.  However, I think someone needs to get through to this mother fast!  As a mother, it’s her job to protect her child to the best of her ability. Unfortunately, this mother has chosen to make a decision for her son that will have negative long term effects on his life.

Let’s face it people, when you’re high you don’t feel anything – period!  Marijuana, medical or otherwise, doesn’t do anything but deaden your senses –  not to mention your brain cells.  In the long run, medical marijuana is a band aid that has long term consequences for frequent users.

What this mother is advocating is getting her child high so that SHE doesn’t have to deal with his situation. As a result, she’s setting a precedent for what could become a dangerous practice.  If medical marijuana is allowed to be used for autism, what will prevent mothers from using it for ADHD or any other number of conditions?

Can someone please call Child Protective Services!

Related Posts:  A Healthy Shift in Perspective

Blow Away Negativity: Positive Thinking for a Smoke-Free Life

Whether you’re losing weight, studying to advance your career, or kicking the cigarette habit, positive self-talk will serve as a stepping stone for the positive action needed to achieve any goal. Negative self-talk promotes limitation; after all, if you tell yourself, “I’ll never be able to do this” then chances are you won’t be able to. When you’re a victim of negative self-talk, you stop looking for solutions and set yourself up for failure.

When quitting smoking, it’s imperative that you put the kibosh on negative self-talk. Restructure your thoughts into positive terms that will help you achieve your smoke-free goal. Let’s take a positive spin on a few of the negative scenarios you may encounter:

•“It’s not fair; all of my friends still get to smoke, why can’t I?”

Counteract feelings of self-pity, and remind yourself that your friends don’t “get” to smoke – they have to because they’re addicted to nicotine. Smoking is not a treat. Replace these negative thoughts with:

“I remember the vicious cycle of wanting to quit smoking every time I lit up; now, I’m free of those feelings of desparation. My friends wish they could quit smoking like I have.”

•“Life without cigarettes is empty and boring.”

Look forward to filling your “empty” life with a new hobby or spending quality time with friends and family. At 10 minutes smoking time per cigarette, a pack-a-day smoker wastes 3 ½ hours every day on smoking – it’s no wonder you feel like there’s a void in your life! Nip these negative thoughts with:

“At a pack a day, I used to smoke away nearly 4 hours every day. It will be great to spend time with the kids and actually get something accomplished during the day.”

• “I know that I’ll be miserable at the party because I can’t smoke.”

Counteract the message of self-depravation and shift your language to:

“Being smoke-free tonight will be a challenge, but I’ll get the practice I need to learn how to live my life without having cigarettes woven into every activity. I know that any discomfort I may encounter is just a temporary stage in the healing process. I’m growing stronger with every smoke-free day.”

Replacing negative thoughts with a positive internal dialogue is empowering. Change the way you think and feel about smoking, and let your positive thoughts guide you to a new set of beliefs – and a smoke-free life.

So, how are you talking it up?

Related Posts: Pulling the Trigger on Tobacco: Why Do You Light Up?

The Truth about Soda – Finally!

Yahoo had a story today about the detrimental affects of soda on the body, particularly the immune system.  I know, it’s sad that Yahoo is my news source at times, but I turned on my PC and ‘whoop there it was.’  So anyway, they did a good job explaining the many problems with drinking too much soda.  And here, ladies and gentleman, are a few truths about soda:

  • Soda leads to an increase in insulin, which in turn weakens the immune system.  This is a great point for those that have chronic health challenges.  If you’re drinking soda, chances are it’s interfering with whatever you’re doing to try and get better.
  • Soda has tons of sugar, which leads to obesity.  Drink too much soda and you gain weight.  Enough said.
  • The sugar in soda leads to stored fat and increases risks for heart disease, diabetes,and cancer just to name a few.  So, not only do you get a few extra pounds, but you could get sick as well.
  • That nice bubbly texture is actually carbonation which can deplete calcium from the body and increase risks of osteoporosis.

Bottom line:  sugar isn’t good for you folks. No matter how you slice it, whether it’s regular or diet soda, it’s all the same.

What should you do instead?  Drink water, of course.  I have friends that complain that water is just too bland.   So here are a few tips to make it a bit more exciting:

  • Buy mineral water and add a touch of lemon, tangerine, basil, mint leaves or agave nectar to sweeten it (not too much)
  • If you’re addicted to the sweet taste of soda, you may want to try and wean yourself off slowly by mixing water with something like Crystal Lite until you can just move to 100% water.  This can be done with juice as well.  Be careful not to substitute the sugar in soda with the sugar or artificial sweeteners in other beverages out there.

Giving up soda may sound like a monumental task, but it’s easier than you think.  When I was a child, we bought two 12 packs of soda and sometimes a few liters that we would drink during the week.  I don’t know what  was worse, the sugar in the koolaid or the soda.  Anyways, once I got braces when I was 13 and I had to give up soda.  At first, I was a bit nervous, but I found it was easier than I thought.

Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.