Archive for October, 2015

The Tricky Matter of Nicotine

October 31, 2015 — Nicotine and tobacco policy is often cited for similar issues confronted in nutrition and obesity. In this guest post, our good friend Joe Gitchell shares his perspective based on decades of experience in tobacco control, bumping into disconnects between science, bias, and policy. Sound familiar? Mitch Zeller, Director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, has one of […]

A Merit System for Obesity Care?

October 30, 2015 — A new study of public preferences for determining who gets bariatric surgery provides a remarkably clear answer. The public mainly cares about a patient’s lifestyle. The findings suggest a merit system for obesity care. “Lifestyle commitment was considered to be more than twice as important as any other criterion,” the authors found. These results are unsurprising […]

Is Sugar Addictive or Poisonous?

October 29, 2015 — Reading the latest headlines on a new study published in Obesity, it’s hard to know whether we are supposed to think that sugar is addictive or poisonous. Robert Lustig says his new study provides “hard and fast data that sugar is toxic irrespective of its calories and irrespective of weight.” Perhaps we are supposed to conclude that […]

No More General Exclusions for Obesity?

October 28, 2015 — Here’s a rare bolt of clarity from a government agency. The U.S. Department of Labor has just published a set of FAQs that includes a question about general exclusions for obesity in health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Are they permissible? The answer: No. Consistent with PHS Act section 2713, its implementing regulations, […]

The Nexus of Managed Care and Obesity

October 27, 2015 — Until recently, managed care and obesity existed in weirdly parallel universes. Obesity was trivialized as if it’s a simple matter of personal choice and thus systematically excluded from coverage under many, if not most, health plans. And health plans paid for ballooning costs of the chronic diseases that resulted. But at the annual symposium of the Academy […]

Exercise: Separating Helpful Aspirations from Wishful Thinking

October 26, 2015 — Wishful thinking about losing weight through exercise has the potential to backfire. A newly published study in Preventive Medicine by Diana Thomas, Ted Kyle, and Fatima Stanford gives good reasons for thinking twice before prescribing exercise for weight loss. Prevention magazine is ready to sell you “The 8 Most Effective Exercises for Weight Loss.” Fitness clubs and […]

Terrifying Headlines

October 25, 2015 — Do we really need terrifying headlines about perfectly good food? Definitely not, but this week, the Washington Post paired a lovely picture of blueberries with this headline: The latest study about antioxidants is terrifying Scientists think they may boost cancer cells to spread faster C’mon. It’s bad enough that health reporters have been hyping antioxidants for decades. Can’t […]

Patient Death Means Uncertain Future for Zafgen Obesity Drug

October 24, 2015 — Zafgen, a small biotech company “dedicated to the treatment of obesity,” is learning about the risks of their strategy of focusing on drug development for severe obesity. We’ve commented before that their focus is impressive and now it’s being tested. The pivotal randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the lead Zafgen obesity drug, beloranib, was halted after […]

Going Public with Bariatric Surgery

October 23, 2015 — Why, in 2015, is it news that the mayor of Missoula, Montanna, has had bariatric surgery? In an open letter to the citizens of his hometown, John Engen says “I would rather not tell you about any of this,” but he acknowledges that his public profession left him little choice. He went on to say: I’m […]

Why Tolerate Magic Weight Loss Scams?

October 22, 2015 — As a matter of policy, FDA tolerates magic weight loss scams. They really don’t have much choice. Unlike prescription or over-the-counter drugs, FDA was effectively stripped of the power to regulate any claims of effectiveness for dietary supplements by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. Supplement marketers can make any claims they […]