Diet and Weight Loss Blog

FDA Rejects Both Lorcaserin and Qnexa as Medical Weight Loss Treatments

It does not appear that obesity will be cured by a pill any time soon. Two of the three most recently introduced weight loss pills have been rejected by the US Food and Drug Administration, including lorcaserin (Arena Pharmaceuticals) and Qnexa (Vivus Inc) this month. Meridia by Abbott Labs was pulled from the shelves in October as well. Unless Contrave (Orexigen) is approved in December, the only available prescription medication for is Roche’s Xenical.

Weight Loss Drugs Have Many Side Effects, but Fewer Benefits

The FDA rejected Qnexa, a combination of phentermine and topiramate, yesterday due to safety concerns. An advisory panel voted against approving the drug back in July. Vivus has stated that the agency requested that the company provide a thorough evaluation of the drug’s potential for causing birth defects and heart problems. They have said that they will provide this information to the FDA in about six weeks.

Lorcaserin, an investigational selective serotonin 2C receptor agonist, was not approved because of concerns that it caused mammary tumors in rats. In September, an FDA committee voted 9 to 5 against recommending the drug due to side effects such as depression and memory loss.

Meridia (sibutramine) was recently withdrawn from the market because of the risk of heart attacks and strokes in certain patients. Meridia was initially approved in 1997.

Experts are concerned that the FDA’s recent trend toward rejecting anti-obesity medications will halt drug development from other companies as well. Agency director of the Office of New Drugs, Dr. John Jenkins, says that the FDA is “committed to working toward approval, so long as they are safe and effective for the population for which they are intended.”

As for other medical treatments for obesity, an FDA advisory committee will consider a proposal from Allergan to lower the weight threshold for use of its adjustable gastric banding system, called Lap-Band. Currently, the device is only approved for patients with a BMI greater than 40, or greater than 35 with documented obesity-related health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

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Weight Loss Easier with Change of Environment

Researchers from Cornell University say weight loss is easier when dieters change their environment. Compared to making different food choices or changing eating behavior, individuals studied and on a diet had more success by following simple tips to alter their surroundings that in turn stops mindless eating habits for weight loss.

* 5 Weight Loss Tips From Eat Clean Diet Expert

Scientists at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab compared weight loss among 200 participants from the National Mindless Eating Challenge. Changing the eating environment in small ways resulted in a 1 to 2 pound weight loss monthly in the three month study.

"We found that dieters who were given stylized environmental tips — such as use a 10-inch plate, move the candy dish, or rearrange their cupboards — stuck to their diets an average of two more days per month," said Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, author of the book, "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think".

Other tips for facilitating weight loss by changing surroundings include turning off the computer, cell phone and TV during mealtime, using smaller dinner plates and just keeping high calorie foods out of sight. The author adds, "These types of changes are much easier to follow than saying you will eat smaller meals, substitute fruit for sweets, or give up chocolate and French fries.”

* Maintaining weight loss depends on the brain

The success to weight loss from the Mindless Eating Challenge that preceded the Mindless Method comes from recognizing hidden clues that help dieters become more successful by changing their eating environment. The researchers say weight loss is easier with simple changes that include using a smaller plate that can help stop mindless eating habits.

Online Weight Loss Challenge Launched by AARP

There is still time to join the Fat-to-Fit Summer Weight Loss Challenge, launched by AARP on June 21. AARP joins the obesity fight, rampant in the US, by challenging people to make healthy lifestyle changes. Improved health that comes with joining the challenge also comes with prizes. The online Fat-to-Fit Summer Weight Loss Challenge is being led by fitness expert and author Carole Carson, a Nevada City, California, resident who lost more than 60 pounds at age 60.

Carson says, “I’m living proof that you’re never too old to get fit. Unlike diets and other weight loss programs, Fat-to-Fit is intended to help people make permanent, positive lifestyle changes—not just drop 10 pounds and then return to their old bad habits. Our hope is to help people break the diet-relapse cycle for good.”

The Fat-to-Fit online community already has 4200 members from their weight loss challenge last year. Participants gain the support needed to reach weight loss goals through online interaction with Carole Carson’s columns and blogs, videos, recipes and through the support of other participants in the challenge.

Motivation is all you need to join the Fat-to-Fit Summer Weight Loss Challenge. Participants trying to lose weight will log in and enter activity and weight to track changes. As part of the online community you will be encouraged to post recipes, interact and encourage others and try to lose pounds. The website will display the total number of pounds the Fat-to-Fit community has lost – so far that’s 839 pounds with 59 days remaining.

Weekly prizes will be awarded for losing weight. At the end of the online Fat-to-Fit Summer Weight Loss Challenge Carole Carson will choose five winners who show ability to overcome challenges, act as community role models and demonstrate the principles of the Fat-to-Fit program. The top prize is better health from weight loss.

The online weight loss challenge launched by AARP can help fight obesity that fuels cancer, leads to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, disabilities from joint problems and decreased quality of life.

The material gains from joining the Fat-to-Fit Weight Loss Challenge include a one year membership to Gold’s gym with six months of personal training, a trip to Orlando for two, September 30 to October 2, 2010, to attend AARP’s Orlando (at) 50+ National Event and Expo alongside Carole Carson. Consider joining the Fat-to-Fit Summer Weight Loss Challenge. There is nothing to lose but weight. The online weight loss challenge, complete with recipes, videos and support is free.

Forgo Fad Dieting, Join Healthy Weight Campaign

The last decade can be defined by the ups and downs of different fad diets — which seem to go in and out of fashion like shoulder pads and hemlines. Yet, long-term success has been slim. Two out of three Americans — including 40 percent of Corpus Christi residents — remain overweight or obese.

A new campaign crossing the country, the Campaign for Healthy Weight, is rallying Americans behind the healthy weight cause and urging people to think more about their “health” instead of simply a number on the scale. Studies indicate that small, specific changes in physical activity and calorie intake can make a big difference. And, people who maintain a healthy weight are less likely to be at risk for weight-related health conditions, such as heart disease. The Campaign will make its stop in Corpus Christi on Saturday, October 25, 2008 to urge local residents to change their “diet” mindset and elect a new attitude.

Health management is really starting to become a bigger part of weight management. The key is to make small, sustainable changes that can last a lifetime. Drinking lowfat or fat free milk as a part of a healthy daily eating plan and walking more every day are two easy adjustments that can go a long way in supporting a healthy weight.

Weighing in on the American Diet

A new report called Weighing in on the American Diet found that the number of adults who say they are on a diet has steadily decreased over the past decade. The study, conducted by The NPD Group in collaboration with the Milk Processor Education Program, found the majority of Americans say they are on a diet for their health and their weight; 68 percent say “feeling healthier” is why they’re dieting.

People who are watching their weight, however, are making less than optimal beverage choices. Coffee, soft drinks, teas and juices are most likely filling their glasses and cups, with milk being the fifth most frequently consumed beverage — only 14 percent of all beverage occasions. The report found that adult dieters who made drinking lowfat or fat free milk a daily habit were more likely to have a healthier body mass index (BMI), a better quality diet and were less likely to feel nutrient-deprived, compared to dieters who didn’t.

Milk supplies two nutrients, that along with physical activity, are especially important when cutting calories — calcium to prevent bone loss and protein to help build muscle mass. Studies suggest that drinking the recommended three glasses of lowfat or fat free milk a day along with a healthy diet can help maintain a healthy weight. Researchers have also found that people with higher intakes of milk tend to be leaner and are less likely to gain excess weight than those who drink little or no milk.

Milk — The Beverage with Your Health Interests at Heart

People who maintain a healthy weight are less likely to be at risk for weight-related health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some types of cancer. In addition, some studies have linked meeting the recommendations for lowfat and fat free milk along with eating fruits and vegetables to a lower risk for high blood pressure and heart disease, as part of a heart-healthy diet. The American Heart Association 2007 Guidelines for Preventing Cardiovascular Disease in Women emphasize eating fresh fruits, vegetables and lowfat milk and milk products.

Our campaign encourages people to include three servings of lowfat or fat free milk as part of a heart-healthy diet and to walk everyday. With nine essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D, protein and potassium, milk is a great way to get a nutrient boost.

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Low-Calorie Sweeteners Can Help with Weight Loss

Some recent reports have questioned the weight loss and caloric control benefits of low-calorie sweeteners. A new study, however, supports the idea that low-calorie sweeteners can significantly reduce a person’s caloric intake and the tendency to overeat and thus help with weight loss.

Despite ongoing concerns and debates about any harm artificial and other low-calorie sweeteners such as aspartame and stevia may cause, millions of people turn to these products as table sweeteners and to the low-calorie and/or low-sugar foods that have them as ingredients as a way to control caloric intake and their weight.

Some concerns about low-calorie sweeteners are that individuals who use them may compensate for the lower caloric intake by eating more of other foods, and that they may feel less satisfied after consuming sugar substitutes and feel hungry, which could lead them to overeat.

In a new study, published in the journal Appetite, researchers gave study participants (both healthy and overweight adults) a pre-meal that contained either sucrose (table sugar), aspartame, or stevia (a low-calorie herbal sweetener). Participants who received the aspartame or stevia consumed significantly fewer calories overall, did not overeat, and did not say they had increased feelings of hunger.

The results of this study support the findings of a 2009 meta-analysis in which investigators evaluated 224 studies. In that report, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers concluded that while there were concerns that including non-nutritive sweeteners in the diet promoted an increase in caloric intake and contributed to obesity, “most of the purported mechanisms by which this occurs are not supported by the available evidence.”

Beth Hubrich, a dietitian with the Calorie Control Council, noted that when low-calorie sweeteners are “used as part of an overall healthy diet,” both as a table sweetener and in low-calorie products, they “can be beneficial tools in helping people control caloric intake and weight.”


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