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Meridia Drug Removal

October 11, 2010 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

One of the top news stories from this past week was the “voluntary” removal of the weight loss drug Meridia from the US market. Dr. John Jenkins, the director of the Food and Drug Administration’s drug evaluation branch, stated “Meridia’s continued availability is not justified when you compare the very modest weight loss that people achieve on this drug to their risk of heart attack or stroke”. Presently, there are an estimated 100,000 patients in the US using this previously sanctioned medication. But now, they’re being urged to discontinue using it and consult with their physicians about alternative means of losing those extra pounds. My Healthy Monday tip of the week is to strategically use safe dietary techniques to accomplish your weight loss goals instead of potentially dangerous drugs.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I can’t avoid mentioning the fact that I’ve lost and maintained a weight loss of over 90 lbs by following a low-carbohydrate diet over the past few years. Simply put, I sing the praises of this dietary approach because it quite possibly saved my life. The same is true in the case of Mrs. Healthy Fellow. Her health and weight is better than ever due to the adoption of a carbohydrate restricted menu plan. Having said that, I fully understand that some of you are reluctant to follow the same path. That’s why I want to present three other viable options that I’ve taken directly from recent entries in the medical literature.

  • Restricting what you eat isn’t the only way to support healthy weight loss. A study set to appear in the December 2010 issue of Eating Behaviors reports that increasing one’s intake of fruits and vegetables can improve “dietary restraint score”, decrease hunger and result in significant weight loss. This assertion is based on a 6 month intervention that involved 68 overweight or obese postmenopausal women. I suspect that focusing on lower sugar fruits (apples, berries, melons, etc.) and non-starchy vegetables (avocado, cauliflower, kale, etc.) would likely compound the health and weight loss benefits noted in the trial in question. (1)
  • A newly released study in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases offers up another option: eat a diet that’s rich in unsaturated fats (UFs). A menu plan with 30% of its calories coming from UFs was found significantly more effective at promoting weight loss than a very low fat diet (10% fat) and even yielded a slight advantage over an isocaloric low carbohydrate diet (60% fat, 4% carbohydrate). All of the diets were deemed as providing “significant cardiometabolic risk factor reduction” during the 15 month examination period. Unsaturated fats are abundant in select heart-friendly foods such as fish, nuts, olives and seeds. (2)
  • High protein + high fiber = greater weight loss. So says the September edition of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A total of 89 overweight or obese women of diverse ages (18 to 65) were randomized into two diet groups over a 10 week period. Half received a low-fat, high carbohydrate menu, while the remainder were given with a “relatively high-protein (up to 30% energy), high-fiber (>35 g per day)” diet. The participants consuming the high-protein, high-fiber (HPHF) menu lost more body fat and weight than those on the “standard” low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. In addition, LDL (“bad”) and total cholesterol levels dropped to a greater degree in the HPHF volunteers. (3)
Higher Consumption of Fruits & Vegetables is Inversely Associated w/ Weight Gain
Source: Am J Clin Nutr 90: 202-209, 2009. (a)

Diet isn’t the only viable strategy for weight loss. Here are a few less obvious techniques that I’ve often used to prevent late-night “snack attacks”: 1) Never skip breakfast and make sure to eat plenty of protein during the first meal of the day. It just might keep you satisfied all day and night long. 2) Brush your teeth and floss after you’re done eating for the night. The thought of having to go through that process twice in a night is often enough to discourage one more trip to the refrigerator. 3) Have a large glass of herbal tea in the evening. Simply drinking extra water can help fill you up. But there’s something about drinking a warm beverage that seems to soothe the mind and tame one’s appetite. (4,5,6)

There are numerous medications currently in development that hope to one day address the obesity epidemic in an effective and safe manner. That’s always the goal. However, the reality is predictably a very different story. Time and time again, we see that these so-called miracle drugs tend to underperform and exceed  “acceptable” side-effect profiles. In the meantime, we know of many natural methods to address this health crisis. No one can promise that these alternatives are as easy as swallowing a pill. But the reward for achieving weight loss without pharmaceutical support extends far beyond avoiding adverse reactions. With effort and struggle comes the feeling of accomplishment and empowerment. No pill or surgery can offer us as much.

Be well!


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Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Nutrition

4 Comments & Updates to “Meridia Drug Removal”

  1. Mark Says:

    I completely agree. My weight loss was achieved by reducing or eliminating most starches and eating lean proteins and lots of fresh vegetables.

    Brushing your teeth to curb hunger is a simple way to stay on track. The stronger the mint flavor the better.

    I winder how many of those taking these weight loss drugs actually follow a plan or believe this magic bullet allows them to continue eating with no changes?

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you, Mark.

    They’re usually advised to follow some type of dietary strategy. But how strongly that advice is emphasized is debatable. And that doesn’t even factor in the quality of the dietary guidance in the first place – typically a low-fat, high-carb menu plan.

    Be well!


  3. Mark Says:


    A good companion article on natural weight loss products

  4. JP Says:

    Thank you for posting that, Mark. Unfortunately, supplement contamination (intended or otherwise) is a reality of life. We need to stamp it out. It’s bad for all involved.


    Be well!


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