Oh Joy, Pile On The Gravy!

I try not to concern myself overly much with how our neighbors in the world think of our foibles. Every once in a while however, we (the U.S.) do something that makes me a little embarrassed to be an American.

The O.J. chase and trial was that kind of event. The John Wayne Babbit thing was another. Newt Gingrich whining about having to exit at the back of the Presidential Plane made me cringe a bit also.

Now, here we go again.

The FDA is on the verge of approving a new diet pill, Orlistat. This is not the first significant diet drug they have approved. Just last year they approved a pill called Redux. The combination of a rich diet, and an "obsession with thin" in our culture, makes diet research very big business.

Last year's wonder child, Redux helps people lose weight by reducing their appetite. Eat less, loose weight. That's pretty simple. Nothing new in the concept except that Redux's manufacturer claims it is more effective then the currently available over the counter diet pills.

This new one, however, works differently. Orlistat reduces the ability of the body to make use of the food it eats. The developer claims up to a 30% reduction in the absorption of any fat consumed.

From a dieter's point of view, this is the best of both worlds. (Providing that one can ignore the "side effect" inherent in having all that grease still in the intestine at the back end.) Haven't we always wanted to be able to eat all that we want and not suffer the consequences? No more guilt over chocolate sundays.

The serious medical problems for the truly obese are the justification for development of such drugs. However, with 30 Billion Dollars a year spent by Americans on diet products, there is little doubt that the manufacturer, Hoffmann-La Roche, has a bonanza on its hands.

How do we look to the rest of the world? Perhaps a bit like Roman Nobles running to the Vomitorium at a feast so that we can gorge ourselves more yet. We already have the (probably deserved) reputation of being the fattest, most wasteful culture on the planet. Now we encourage that reputation even more by spending our medical resources on making a drug that allows our already over eating, over weight, population to eat even more and then simply poop it out.

A pill that magically makes us not hungry seems like it should be enough. But, as we all know, weight problems often have a lot to do with people eating when they are not hungry anyway. We don't want to go through the effort of restricting our diet, we certainly don't want to go through the effort of increasing our activity and we MOST CERTAINLY don't want to live with the consequences of eating too much.

But we have salvation on the way. Oh Glory, I'm proud to be an American.

By Suli Marr