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Dieting and the Weight Loss Pharmaceutical Silver Bullet

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Charlene Marie Muhammad
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Joined: 23 Apr 2008
Posts: 15
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 2:58 pm    Post subject: Dieting and the Weight Loss Pharmaceutical Silver Bullet Reply with quote

Dieting and the weight loss pharmaceutical silver bullet: the war on obesity, commercial style

Americans are by in large OCD (that’s obsessive compulsive disordered). The Taber’s Medical Dictionary defines OCD as, “recurrent obsessions or compulsions severe enough to cause distress because of time consumed or interference with an individual’s normal routine. Obsessions manifest as persistent ideas, thoughts, or impulses that the [person] may attempt to ignore…Individuals with OCD experience a sense of tension when they attempt to resist compulsion.”

How did we get this way?


Well, marketing in general, but the television commercials’ impact on our thought processes- and thus actions- cannot be understated.

Not to belabor the point as this is not the focus of my thought process for this blog, but reflecting on the history of television and commercials, we must agree that TV ads were developed to entice its audience to purchase a product. Hence the term “soap opera.”

Laundry detergents and other household products bankrolled the early day-time dramas (and still do!) since these day-time shows were targeted towards housewives back-in-the-day (AKA the “stay-at-home-moms”: more PC terminology for the 21st century.) These commercial ads provided the promise of ease in maintaining the daily household routine. Cleaning was easier, more efficient, whiter and brighter. Mom’s work could be done in a “jiffy” and she’d have more leisure time to enjoy her “stories.”

But somehow, the quest for a life of leisure has backfired (or has it?!) Yup, Americans produced a whole lot of stuff to make life easier, yet the quality of life has decreased due to what we consumed [another long blog idea, but let’s not get into this right now.]

Seeking a life of leisure is making us sick! Regardless of one’s socio-economic status. If you’re rich, then over-indulgence has led to illness. If your poor, the desire for riches has become an obsession and we consume “Acme” brand knock-offs of the Rich’s so-called quality commodities and get just as sick as they do if not more so.

Our illnesses are a high commodity now! And we are obsessed by them. Just check out how our compulsions play out in commercials.

Let’s consider the obesity epidemic since we’ve been working this topic for the last few blogs.

Daytime television has changed a lot since the detergent-sponsorship age. Automobiles took over this precious spot [interesting to see where this goes during this current economic crisis] for most of the latter half of the 20th century. Now in the 21st century, its diet ads!

Here’s how it happened.

In sum, Americans live the most leisurely existence of people on the planet and we are also the fattest. But, we Americans by-in-large don’t talk straight about our little problems- like being overweight,- we tend to talk around them or “about” them and let our celebrities do it for us like Oprah, Dr. Phil and Nancy Grace.

Lots of people are overweight these days, but don’t like to admit it. We rather live vicariously through America’s Top Model, Idol or Real Housewives of St.Elsewhere- hell, we even wanna “Look good naked.” Talk about denial. Commercial strategists “know” how “we” really feel and live and so they developed a savvy marketing strategy to give “us” a voice to complain and hide and the promise of a quick fix that we can quietly do in the comfort and privacy of our own home.

No longer do we need to go to the physician to get a diagnosis for our ailments, just watch a commercial and embrace a symptom or two. Commercials give you the diagnosis AND the solution in the form of a little purple, blue, red or white pill. With the name of the drug in hand (regardless of the side effects spoken really fast like fine print), off we go the doc’s to REQUEST a prescription!

Breathing problems? Try Advair or Patanase. Heart problems? We got your Plavix, Cipitor and Bystolic. Can’t keep it up? the big V drug for sure! Feeling moody? Cymbalta might do you fine. Pharmaceutical agents that manipulate you mind, body and cells but not even close to dealing with the root of these issues.

The strategy for peddling weight loss products is really scary. Since “reputable” pharmaceutical drugs have been mainstreamed, weight loss supplements are being peddled like pharmaceuticals. Indeed, obesity and excess BMI are at epidemic proportions in the United States just as hypertension, diabetes, depression, chronic fatigue, asthma and (yikes!) impotence are, but most weight loss dietary supplements have not been vetted like prescription drugs are at least required to do by law.

Worst yet- for we would be Herbalists and Natural Healing Practitioners- most of these weight loss supplements are herbal or plant-based, utilizing restricted medicinal herbs, added to them lots and lots of caffeine and a host of miracle cure claims based on the herbs’ traditional use folklore.

Let’s consider two biggies: Hydroxy-Cut and Xenadrine. These commercials get aired daily and several times within an hour’s programming. Beautiful blond female with six-pack abs, sleek bulging calves and thighs who claims to have lost “over 70 pounds in 6 months” using the product. Talk about less gain with no pain. Both of these products contain the active constituent ephedrine of the herb Ma huang (Ephedra). The FDA took Ma huang off the commercial selves of health food stores in 2004 after several deaths were associated with its use. Ma huang has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a respiratory tonic among other uses. But the whole plant was used as the traditional medicine and not one constituent that were known to be toxic if taken in high doses. Weight loss supplements like Hydoxy-Cut, Xenadrine, Dexatrim and Zylotrim all contain large doses of caffeine- up to 50% in some products. Although caffeine is a natural substance that suppresses appetite and act as a diuretic, it also increases blood pressure and taxes kidney and liver functions.

Last month (May 2009), the FDA recalled Hydroxy-cut, but commercials continued to be aired, although the company claims that the current product is “ephedrine” free. Ephedrine was replaced with another constituent found in the TCM herbal remedy Garcinia Cambogia now marketed as Citrimax. This constituent is currently being investigated by the Chemical Selection Working Group of the National Institute for Health: the body responsible for identifying toxic substances in food.

In 2005, the manufacturers of Xenadrine, Ctodyne, also had their weight loss product recalled due to false and misleading claims about the product’s ability to augment weight loss. The product had already grossed $6 billion in sales. The makers have since changed both the name of their company (now known as Cytogenix) and market Xenadrine as Xenadrine RFA-1 and RFX. It’s ephedrine-free!

Herbal products like Hoodia Gordonii are also marketed out of context. The current commercial products of Hoodia are isolated constituents like ephedrine was for Ephedra: potent chemicals developed as nutraceuticals or “nutritional pharmaceuticals” – mini drugs.

Our obsession with dis-ease had led us to become a nation of compulsive pill takers- drug addicts- convinced that the solution to our problems can be found in one small pill.

Think about it: our lifestyle is interfering with the normal activities of living- breathing, sleeping, eating, and even having intimacy. We are in denial as to the cause, obsessed by our inability to recapture “normalcy” and compulsively seek a quick fix. Clever marketing keeps this perpetual cycle going. And the rich get rich and the ill get sicker and the poor keep going along to get along.

What’s the solution?

The AMA recommends anti-depressants. I like to suggest we each take the 8 Steps of Atonement that were presented at the Million Man March and Million Family March (so ladies, don’t feel I ain’t talking to you too!) and apply them to one’s own self!

1. Point out the problem. Look in the mirror and point out your own problem(s) to your own self. Say, “Self, you got a problem(s). And the problem is….”
2. Acknowledge the problem. Say, “Self. I hear you. I am my own worst enemy.”
3. Confess your problem- to God (Creator) and yourself. [This means you are taking ownership for your problems and don’t blame anyone else. Even the “oppressor.”]
4. Repent. Stop doing what you are doing to cause the problem!
5. Atone to yourself. Start providing reparations to yourself. If you smoke, stop it! If you drink, stop it! If you are eating foods that make you sick, stop eating them! If we want to consider ourselves gods and goddesses, we should be, do and act like one.
6. Forgive yourself. No one’s perfect. Life is a journey and all is a lesson. Learn from your life and do better.
7. Reconcile and restore yourself. Be kind to yourself in thoughts and deeds. Start a good habit, one that nurtures your heart and soul and radiates your smile.
8. Strive to learn from whence you came.


Each of us has a duty to self and the collective consciousness.
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