Twisting the Obvious

By twisting the obvious, reporters for MedPage Today and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  have published remarkably biased reports this week on new treatments for obesity. In fact, they barely even mention obesity, instead choosing to trivialize serious medicines for obesity as “diet pills.”

The obvious facts that these reporters have chosen to twist are straightforward and quite transparent:

  • People concerned about obesity want more research and innovative treatments.
  • All drugs have adverse effects, for which they are labeled.
  • Experts get paid for the work they do in research, consulting, and teaching.

Five years ago, more than a decade had passed since the FDA approved any treatment for the medical management of obesity. Most pharmaceutical companies concluded that FDA had set the bar so high for new obesity treatments that no new drugs to meet this need would ever be approved. They shut down their research programs.

When this happened, a wide range of concerned people spoke up. Scientists and clinicians who are experts in obesity expressed alarm that the Food and Drug Administration might be erecting barriers that would kill innovation for years to come.

People affected by obesity expressed dismay because their needs for more and better options to control this chronic disease were being ignored. The few pharmaceutical companies that were still investing in this field of research asked if they were being given a fair shot. Now, a handful of new options are becoming available.

In the biased reporting of this week, concerns about obesity treatment innovation are dismissed as “pressure” from “the weight-loss industrial complex.”

People who are talking about “diet pills” should get a grip on reality. Prescription medicines intended for managing the chronic disease of obesity are not miracle weight-loss pills. The only products that promise fast, easy weight loss are bogus dietary supplements — none of which have been proven safe and effective.

And reporters who want to write about obesity medicine should talk to someone who is board certified in the field. Instead, these reporters relied upon an emergency medicine physician.

If you’re lucky enough to be immune to obesity, maybe this all seems trivial. But people whose lives are profoundly affected by severe obesity want evidence-based options and skilled professionals to help them.

Trivializing the problem and twisting facts into a conspiracy story helps no one.

Click here if you want to read the reports from MedPage Today and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Click here for a more informed perspective on the need for medical obesity treatment.

Twist, photograph © lzee by the Sea / flickr

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