In Jennifer Xu’s column on Monday (“Weighing in on Diets,” 3/18/13) she recommends funding for research on a Japanese canker sore drug that has been shown to increase weight loss in mice. She endorses trying to see if the drug could help humans combat the obesity epidemic sweeping the nation.
While there’s scientific proof backing up Xu’s claims, I’m still very skeptical of any drug produced to stimulate weight loss. Maybe it comes from the thousands of infomercials that feature before and after pictures and a too tanned, too toned muscle-head saying, “And you don’t have to change your diet at all!” Quite simply, I don’t believe it.
More importantly, a magic pill, if it does exist, won’t cure the real problem that has led to a massively overweight American population. Fast food, large portions and a sedentary lifestyle have been programmed into our culture and don’t seem to be leaving any time soon.
Super Big Gulps, Supersized French fries, and the Treinté size at Starbucks are all examples of obscenely large and high-caloric items that have become a normal part of our meals at least once a week. Does anyone really need a 40-ounce soda?
The food culture of our society doesn’t just affect those who are extremely overweight. A skinny person isn’t synonymous with a healthy one. Obesity isn’t the only problem: Some of the skinniest people have the worst eating habits. Weight loss isn’t the only indicator of a healthy lifestyle. Muscle weighs more than fat, therefore muscle mass is a better indicator of health than relative weight.
As a person who has struggled to lose and maintain her weight since puberty, eating well and exercising have become a part of my lifestyle rather than interim measures to lose 10 pounds.
I don’t “diet” — not in short bursts, anyway. I eat well and compensate for less healthy days with healthier ones later in the week. I exercise because I feel stressed without it, and I make it fun with kickboxing and kettle bell classes.
Xu is right. It’s hard to change what our bodies consider the norm, our “set point” as she calls it. However, just because eating right and exercising are hard doesn’t mean they aren’t worth doing. And they’re probably healthier than injecting chemicals into our bodies. Secondly, your body seems bounces around that “set point” by five or six pounds every month. It’s exhausting to keep track of every half-pound gained or lost. Instead, find a weight that makes you feel good in your clothes, gives you energy and isn’t impossible to maintain — even if that’s a few pounds heavier than what you would like.
A magic pill — even if it’s scientifically proven to help cut weight — won’t improve the way people look at being healthy (a lifelong commitment rather than an end goal). Healthy shouldn’t be about a goal weight or fitting into a prom dress or being “bikini ready.” These are the short-term objectives that can lead to bulimia, anorexia and other eating disorders.
Everyone longs for the day when we can take a pill and become a size two, but it’s very unlikely that this will make us any healthier.
Jesse Klein is a LSA sophomore.