June 29, 2006

Obesity Drug

Sick - or simply eating too much?(Filed: 30/06/2006)
Britain is reaching - apparently - a crisis point on obesity. A new pill promises to help by controlling appetite but should fat people really be turned into patients? Judith Woods weighs up the issues
The launch of a new weight loss pill has been hailed as a breakthrough by health campaigners wringing their hands over what can be done about Britain's "obesity crisis". The once-a-day pill, sold under the trade name Accomplia, controls appetite by blocking activity in the part of the brain that generates cravings.
As a nation we are steadily eating ourselves to death; 23 per cent of adults in Britain are obese
But when did being fat become a medical issue - and should it be regarded as an illness? Will the hoary old chestnuts "it's my glands" or "I have a slow metabolism" (both scientifically proven to be untrue) now be replaced with "I'm ill"? (Although perhaps not ill enough to eat less and exercise more.)
The self-avowed culprit is Professor Andrew Prentice, professor of International Nutrition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and co-author of a provocative paper published in 1995 in the British Medical Journal, called Obesity in Britain: Gluttony or Sloth?
"I have to hold my hands up," says Prof Prentice now. "Around 15 years ago, when I was at the Association for the Study of Obesity, my colleagues and I consciously started to up the ante about obesity in the media, because it was a Cinderella area and nobody was taking any interest in it. I think it was the right thing to do, but now I do have concerns, and I confess that it's a tortuous issue.
"On the one hand,'' he continues, ''we need to medicalise obesity to give people a wake-up call; they should be made aware of the health consequences of being overweight. But on the other hand, we don't want to go too far and we certainly don't want to play into the hands of the lobby that would say this can be treated only by drugs."
By all accounts, as a nation we are steadily eating ourselves to death; 23 per cent of adults in Britain are obese, up from seven per cent in 1980. An additional 42 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women are now overweight. More depressing still, the Health Survey of England showed that nearly half of teenage girls and more than a third of teenage boys are overweight or obese.
Obesity is measured by calculating the Body Mass Index (BMI) where a person's weight is divided in kilos by his or her height in metres. A BMI of 20 to 25 is considered normal, 25 to 30 overweight and over 30 obese.
The medical implications for the overweight and obese are severe; a woman with a BMI of 28 will be 18 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, compared to a slim woman. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, with complications that can result in amputation and blindness. Obesity-linked fatal diseases include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and some cancers.
Type 2 diabetes and obesity-related conditions are costing the NHS £1 billion a year, and rising. One maverick commentator has suggested the rather Swiftian notion of a fat tax, related to people's girth, to counteract the health resources they will consume proportionate to their size.
A nonsensical idea, but in the real world the previous laissez-faire attitude towards people deemed to be responsible for their own ill-health is also changing. Just as smokers may be denied live-saving operations until they give up cigarettes, so surgeons can turn away obese patients until they slim down. Last November, three Suffolk primary care trusts ruled that patients with a BMI over 30 would not get operations such as hip and knee replacements.
GPs have also been instructed to tell fat patients they should lose weight and to give them advice on how to achieve better fitness. A great many overweight people are likely to ask for a daily drug to control their weight.
"Medicalisation is necessary in cases of clear clinical obesity, which carries severe health consequences," says Dr Susan Jebb, head of nutrition and obesity research at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge.
"But there's a huge part of the wider obesity problem which isn't medical, which is about lifestyle and individual choice. There's a danger in medicalising obesity, particularly on the back of drug developments, in that it discourages people from taking individual action, and puts them into patient mode."
There have, of course, always been fat people. In developing world cultures where food is scarce and it's easy to be thin, plumpness is an index of wealth and status. Conversely, in western cultures where food is cheap, plentiful and calorie-rich, it is easy to be fat, and so slimness is regarded as the paradigm of beauty.
Notwithstanding the current "thinspiration" debates surrounding Victoria Beckham and her elevation to a role model for anorexics, as a society we value slimness. Women in particular congratulate each other on losing weight, which is regarded as a praiseworthy achievement - which begs the question, why are so many of us obese?
"Obesity is a classic gene-environment interaction," says Dr Jebb. "People have varying degrees of genetic susceptibility to obesity, and if you are in an environment where food is available all day long, people with this susceptibility are going to find it very hard not to overeat.
"Of course eating is a voluntary behaviour, but it's not such a free choice as it might seem. There are lots of complicated factors involved, which is why tackling obesity is a complex issue."
The so-called obesity gene GAD2 has been shown to be more common in a particular form in obese people than the non-obese. External factors include depression, stress and social and economic deprivation, which are often linked to obesity levels.
Most fatally, our consumption of high-energy processed food, which is laden with fat and sugar, has gone hand in hand with a reduction in our levels of physical activity. These, ultimately, are what trigger obesity.
A typical obese man or woman has enough energy stored away to survive 140 days without eating another burger. The obvious, and to some degree easy targets to blame for overeating are the companies that manufacture processed convenience food and the fast-food chains.
The banning of food advertising on children's programmes will help to reduce childhood obesity. But interestingly, a study carried out in 1997 revealed that the British actually consume 20 per cent fewer calories than in the Seventies. Yet still we pile on the pounds.
In our desk-bound culture, where children are driven to school and playing fields are sold off to developers, reducing opportunities for them to exercise, a huge proportion of the population is sedentary.
Professor Prentice, who, incidentally, cited sloth, rather than gluttony as the prime suspect in obesity levels, says that inactivity is a crucial contributor to obesity.
"When it comes down to it, I don't care how fat anyone is as long as it's not making them unhealthy. It's when I see the medical misery caused by obesity, that I start to care," he says. "I care about the person and I care about myself as a taxpayer."
Two years ago, the Government stated that it would halt the year-on-year increase in childhood obesity by 2010. There is little sign that this target will be met. A child with one obese parent has a 40 per cent likelihood of being obese, which doubles if both parents are obese.
Slim celebrities are routinely scapegoated for contributing to anorexia. Who is to blame for making us fat?
An area that must surely demand research is why obesity is on the rise, despite the social stigma traditionally attached to it. It is well-documented that overweight people are less successful in job interviews, for example.
Could it be that there are so now so many obese people in the country that being merely clinically overweight no longer carries a stigma? If so, that could have very grave repercussions.
"In the past, the main motive for weight loss was fashion and vanity," says Prof Prentice. "Thank goodness for vanity. I dread to think how fat we would be otherwise."

Online treatment

Online help is at hand for people with eating disordersLAURA ROBERTS TREATING eating disorders online is the future for counselling, according to specialists in the conditions.
The Eating Disorders Association says online groups can provide people with a safe forum to discuss their illnesses with other sufferers, particularly given the increasing number of pro-anorexia websites online which can exacerbate the illness.
The National Centre for Eating Disorders has launched a website for sufferers, eating-disorders.org.uk that offers a programme of personalised therapy to people seeking help to beat the condition.
Deanne Jade, the director of the centre, said the site could provide interim counselling for those on waiting lists for specialist therapy.
She said: "We are desperate for doctors to prescribe or recommend it to people who have gone on waiting lists and are just sitting around waiting with no-one there to help them.
"We can save people a lot of time and we can save the health service money. They can go online any time they like - in the middle of the night, if necessary. It's a wonderful safety net for young people who are scared to go and see an expert.
"The National Institute of Clinical Excellence guidelines for eating disorders, especially binge-eating disorders such as bulimia, recommends self-help as the treatment of first choice."
She added that, so far, the programme was more suited to the treatment of bulimia than anorexia.
This article: http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=946682006
Last updated: 29-Jun-06 01:06 BST

ED increase in Children

Eating Disorders Increasing Among Children
Tuesday June 27, 10:37 am ET

Nation's Leading Eating Disorder Treatment Center, Remuda Ranch, States Nearly 20 Percent of its Patients Report Onset of Eating Disorder Before the Age of 12

"We have seen a 300 percent increase in the number of calls from preteen patients," said Amy Gerberry, program director and therapist at Remuda Ranch's children's program. "Eating disorders are increasing rapidly in preteen girls. It's because of our culture's obsession with dieting and thinness."
"Children are being targeted with messages and products promoting diets and body image dissatisfaction," adds Gerberry. "There are more and more sexualized and objectified images of children in the media today than in the past."
Gerberry also adds there is a declining age of menarche (the onset of menstruation) in American females. Menarche can be a trigger for eating disorders in girls who are afraid to grow up.
Remuda Ranch, a leading treatment facility for women and girls suffering from anorexia, bulimia and related issues, opened a treatment facility specifically for girls under age 13 two years ago. At Remuda's children's center, the comprehensive inpatient program makes a lasting impact on young lives.
"We are seeing patients come in as young as seven and eight years old," says Gerberry. "Our program is tailored specifically to the needs of children. Therapy is much more experiential and hands-on, with an active equine program that the girls love. There's also lots of involvement with the family."
Remuda Ranch believes the following are signs of an eating disorder in children:
-- Weight loss -- Increased exercise (to an excessive level) -- Increased isolation -- Decreased desire to participate in social activities -- Obsession with weight and body -- Increase in secretive, sneaky behavior
"I recommend parents talk openly about fears and behaviors," adds Gerberry. "If there is concern, consult with a therapist."

June 23, 2006


Coping with eating disorders
5.28PM, Thu Jun 22 2006

ITV News has been highlighting the problem of eating disorders as hundreds of thousands of people battle with them daily.
Currently, 90,000 people are being treated for bulimia but doctors fear the figure could be as high as 1 million undiagnosed cases in Britain alone.
The illness is characterised by episodes of binge-eating, and then vomiting, and experts say it's the hardest eating disorder to spot, and the most common.
Another common eating disorder is anorexia which has been described as the most deadly psychiatric disorder. Specialists estimate more than 20 per cent of anorexia sufferers will die - either from collapse of their vital organs or through suicide.
Meanwhile, 10 per cent of men are said to be dealing with an eating disorder despite the belief that it's an illness that only affects women.
Specialists believe this figure too is way higher, with many more young men and boys too scared to ask for help as society's growing obsession with body image continues.

June 21, 2006

New Measures in Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity measurements in schools could do more harm than good Child Health News Published: Tuesday, 20-Jun-2006
The Government's recently announced initiative to screen the weight of four and ten year olds in schools could be psychologically harmful to children and even result in some developing eating disorders, warn researchers from Loughborough University.Supporters say the tests, which will measure the children's Body Mass Index (BMI), will help to increase parental awareness of obesity, while opponents claim the initiative could lead to overweight children being misinformed about the state of their health and, even worse, being bullied.
The Loughborough researchers - Dr Emma Rich, Professor John Evans and Rachel Allwood, from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences - agree that the potentially damaging effect on the children themselves could outweigh the benefits.
They have also expressed concerns over the use of BMI as a measuring tool, as research evidence suggests it to be very imprecise, and not a method that should be used on its own or casually to make judgements about a person's 'health'.
The team's opinions stem from their research into the experiences at school of girls and young women suffering from eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Their findings revealed that many sufferers strongly believe that their illness was nurtured or exacerbated, or sometimes even caused, albeit inadvertently, by the well-meaning actions of teachers and health experts in schools.
"Our research indicated that schools are increasingly pressing children to monitor their own diets, body shapes and levels of physical activity, which can unintentionally cause children to become anxious about their appearance, their weight and the food they're eating, when they have no need to be," says Dr Rich.
Some of the young women interviewed as part of the team's study recalled traumatic experiences of being weighed in schools, which led to them becoming increasingly unhappy with their bodies. One girl commented: "I used to be overweight, and I remember one time at school when the whole class got weighed. The teacher said, 'Oh, it's the big one' and I was the heaviest in the year."
Dr Rich continues: "The pressures on children to monitor their bodies are relentless, and they're not just confined to school in PE and health lessons, they occur everywhere - in playgrounds, at lunchtimes, in corridors, on TV and web sites, and in the home.
"It's therefore unsurprising that recent surveys have shown that many young people who believe they are overweight or obese definitely are not."
Based on their own and others' research evidence, the Loughborough team believe that a degree of panic that has been generated about the issue of obesity, and child obesity in particular, which is often ill-founded. Children are increasingly considered to be an 'at risk' group. As a result, governments around the world are investing a great deal of money in a range of new school-based health imperatives that focus on getting young people to exercise more, change their diets and lose weight.
"The initiatives being proposed to tackle the issue are driven by an assumed connection between claims of escalating rates of obesity and particular lifestyle practices, such as a decline in physical activity, poor diet and too much time spent at a computer or watching TV. Many of these claims are patently false. It's now acknowledged by some researchers that the relationships between weight, diet, physical activity and health are far more complex and uncertain than is currently being suggested," comments Dr Rich.
"While there may be health risks for individuals at the extreme ends of the weight continuum, for example those who are extremely thin or morbidly obese, there's a great deal we don't know about the relationship between weight, health and physical activity. Some studies suggest that people who are 'overweight' according to their BMI but are physically active, may well be healthier than their thinner counterparts who are not physically active. In other words, size, shape and weight might not be the issue at all."
As well as the BMI measurements being introduced in the UK, other practices now in operation elsewhere include lunchbox inspections and health report cards, and it has been reported that in Australia schools have 'fat laps', where children considered to be overweight are required to run around the school field during lunch breaks.
The Loughborough researchers say it is difficult to see how such degrading practices can be considered as positive. "Such initiatives would be considered unethical and unjust in other social contexts. They could have a hugely negative impact on young people.
"If translated into policy and practice in schools, this latest measure will certain damage the health of some children," they warn.

Funny - NOT!

I just read about an interview with Russell Brand. He actually seemed like an interesting character who I thought I was going to like, that was until I got part way through the interview and read his view on his bulimia:

'I was bulimic, actually,' he says quietly, 'from about the age of 11 or 12. And then at about 16, I suddenly became slimmer. It took a while,' he grins, 'but that bulimia, once it took hold, truly was a blessing.' Brand assumes a schoolmasterly tone. 'But if you don't use that bulimia correctly, it'll be the ruination of you.'

I cannot write down what this made me feel without using obscene language. I am appalled by his view and the fact that the quote was actually printed.
How can he talk about bulimia like this? It makes me think he is warped and also I have to question his actual bulimic period. No I'm not a doctor but surely someone who has suffered from an eating disorder and has come through it AND in the public eye would not glamourize it like this?
RArrrrrrr! This has made me so angry

To view the full article please visit:

June 19, 2006

Jade says NO!

Jade's Million-Pound 'No'
Everyone thinks that today's "instant" reality TV stars will do anything for fame and cash.
But not so Jade Goody, who's put her principles before her purse.
Big Brother star Jade has turned down a whopping £1.5m deal to promote diet pills - because of her own past as a slimming pill addict.
"After writing about my experiences in my autobiography, I simply couldn't be associated with a slimming product, no matter how good it is," she told the Daily Mirror.
Jade was nicknamed Miss Piggy in the Big Brother House, and famously stripped off to show her "kebab belly".
After she left the compound she dropped two dress sizes and made £130,000 from a fitness video.
But her weight loss wasn't problem-free. In her autobiography she admitted to developing bulimia as well as an addiction to diet pills.
Jade believes the slimming pills she took contained amphetamines, and says she once mixed them with absinthe at a kids' party.
John Dixon, whose firm sells the herbal pills said: "I admire Jade for being principled enough to turn down that kind of money."

June 9, 2006

27-year-old who passed away last August following a five-year battle with an eating disorder.

Renata's Legacy

Vince Withers (right) and Dr. Olga Heath look at a memorial to Withers’ daughter, which he displays in his family room. Graduation portraits of their son and daughter, hung on either side of a large collage of photos and diplomas in Vince and Dolores Withers’ living room, exemplify parental pride. Christopher Withers is a polite host, offering guests tea or coffee. But despite the welcome atmosphere, whenever his sister Renata’s name is mentioned, the family’s tragic loss is painfully evident.

You can almost hear a pin drop as Vince begins to reminisce about Renata, a vibrant and intelligent 27-year-old who passed away last August following a five-year battle with an eating disorder.

Her mother enters the room a while later, tears welling up in her eyes. She’s still grief-stricken by her daughter’s death, but she’s also worried about other young people experiencing the same ordeal, probably in silence. Several young women have come up to her since Renata’s death and whispered in her ear, "Ms. Withers, I’m like that too, you know," she said.

By speaking publicly, the family hopes more people will become comfortable about talking about eating disorders instead of hiding the truth and not discussing the illness.

The circumstances surrounding Renata’s death became public knowledge prior to the 2005 St. John’s municipal election. Her father, a mayoral candidate, withdrew from the race, with his campaign chairman Paul Thomey commenting that the family was "devastated" by the loss of their daughter. Having served as president and chief executive officer of NewTel until his retirement in 1998, Withers had wanted to represent the citizens of St. John’s in an official capacity. But since then he’s become an advocate of a different sort, helping parents and family members understand and cope with an insidious disorder that can have devastating consequences for its victims.

"I’ve never had so many people call me so emotional," Withers said in a recent interview. "And what always bothers me is how this one has been under the radar for so long."

The people who call ask Withers about the symptoms and what they can do to help, because people with eating disorders often don’t recognize they have a problem, or deny it. Renata began showing symptoms about five years before her death. Withers said as her illness progressed, she changed.

"The personality changes were slow, careful, but not abrasive. She lived in her room more, as if, ‘I don’t know if I want to be bugged by the rest of you,’ " he said.

Withers said when Renata was a child, it just wasn’t in her nature to be dishonest.

"If she told you a little white lie, she would come to you later and tell you the truth," he recalled.
But in recent years, he said, although she exercised a lot more than she should and was losing too much weight, she started hiding how much she was working out from her family.

"If I asked if she was exercising, she would say, ‘No, Dad,’ but she would park the car and walk," her father said.

She also became fanatical about reading food labels and counting calories.

Withers said encouraging Renata to eat more only seemed to make her isolate herself further from her family. "Renata would eat in her room rather than with the family. We’d go to a restaurant and she would avoid going there," Withers said.

Although she struggled for years with her eating disorder, Renata earned bachelor of arts and bachelor of education degrees before her death. Withers said she was determined to finish university, but had to practically crawl there as her disease progressed.

There were days when he felt Renata was too ill to go to class, but she insisted on going.
"When I would drop her off, she would stagger out of the car, she was so weak," he said. The disease eventually took a toll on her entire system, but despite having to make trips to the emergency department, Withers said the critical nature of her eating disorder didn’t seem to register with her until the end. In advanced stages, eating disorders can have devastating effects on internal organs and body systems.

Just days before her death, Withers said, Renata told her mother, "I’m in trouble." At that point, she carried only about 50 pounds on her 5-foot-10 frame. Withers said based on his observations, "once the disease takes over the person, they hate food."

"Once it’s halfway, it’s like the power of the disease takes over. It consumed her because the disease was in charge."

Withers said five years ago he knew little about eating disorders. Since Renata’s illness became public knowledge, he has come to realize that this is a much bigger problem — one many people are reluctant to talk about.

It’s estimated that as many as 7,700 people in this province are at risk of having some form of eating disorder. With that in mind, Withers hopes to establish a community-based, non-profit provincial eating disorder foundation by July. Most other major diseases and disorders have support organizations, he said, but it seems family members of people with eating disorders don’t know where to turn for information and advocacy.

Withers recently presented his proposal Health and Community Services Minister Tom Osborne. The mandate of the foundation will be to serve as an advocacy group dedicated to promoting research and providing public support and information about eating disorders, including treatment options and services for individuals and their families.

Withers said other goals will include working toward more focused and co-ordinated treatments, promoting health body images and self-esteem through public education and awareness, and advocating at various levels of government and health and community groups to ensure input and involvement in decision-making affecting eating disorder policies and treatments.

The foundation will also advocate for and support ongoing research and related medical services.

High Schooler's Guide for Middle School Kids - Tips for a Healthy Mind and Body

Girl Scouts make film for middle schoolers

A few area teens are helping middle-schoolers choose a healthy lifestyle and deal with issues including obesity and eating disorders. Marissa Agbunag, Bekah Lepp, Courtney Flack and Sarah Perkins, members of Girl Scout Troop 636, wrote, directed and produced the film "High Schooler's Guide for Middle School Kids - Tips for a Healthy Mind and Body." The girls also recruited friends to star in the film and interviewed professionals, including a physical trainer, psychologist, doctor and a registered dietitian. Their work was rewarded with Gold Awards from the Girl Scouts, the highest award the organization bestows. Call Susie Perkins at 294-6876 about obtaining a copy of the film.