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September 5, 2006     Cape Gazette
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September 5, 2006

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m CAPE GAZETTE - Tuesday, September 5 - Thursday, September 7, 2006 - 25 New diet pill on sale in Europe Americans are fat. One-third of us are obese. Another third are overweight. A new study suggests that carrying around even a few extra pounds may shorten our lives. If you happen to be 5-feet-9- inches tall and-weigh between 169 and 202 pounds, you are consid- ered overweight. The study in the New England Journal of Medicine (Aug. 24, 2006) suggests that middle-aged people in that cate- gory are 20 percent to 40 percent more likely to die prematurely. If you are over that range, your risk is substantially higher. So, what are we to do? Almost everyone knows that losing weight means eating less and exercising more, but that is very hard work. Americans want instant results. This explains the eternal popu- larity of diet books. Nonprescription diet pills are also big sellers. Products sold on cable "IT and on the web offer dramatic results for minimal effort. Whenever you see someone promoting a miracle weight-loss pill or dietary program, be suspi- cious. Hucksters have been tak- ing advantage of desperate dieters for decades. It astonishes us that people would spend hard-earned money to buy juice from the rare Mongo- PEOPLE'S PHARMACY Joe and Teresa Gradeon Bongo tree found only on the vol- canic mountains of Vanuatu. Just because some beautiful babe says Mongo-Bongo helped her shed 150 pounds in three weeks while she slept, with no exercise or dietary restraint, does not mean it will work for you. How can we lose weight? Some will opt for stomach sur- gery. While this can work for some truly obese people, there are risks, and it is inappropriate for the merely overweight. Others are turning to medica- tions that were developed for other purposes. Some doctors are willing to prescribe off label. Drugs like Adderall or Ritalin for attention-deficit disorder tend to suppress appetite and may cause weight loss as a side effect. Adderall contains amphetamines, compounds that were abused in earlier decades. These stimulants are not very different from some prescription diet pills that come with a long list of warnings. People are willing to risk seri- ous side effects - such as addiction or serious cardiovascular compli- cations - from these off-label medicines because there are only a few approved diet pills. Xenical (orlistat) will soon become available over the counter as Alli, but it might not lose the side effects that have made it famous: fecal incontinence, oily spotting and flatus with discharge. That's why there is such excite- ment about a new drug awaiting approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Acomplia (rimonabant) has recently gone on sale in Europe. Studies show that people taking rimonabant for a year lost about 15 pounds more than those on placebo. It also improves insulin effi- ciency and has a beneficial effect on blood fats, lowering triglyc- erides and raising good HDL cho- lesterol. Side effects may include diarrhea, nausea, anxiety, headache, dizziness and depres- sion. None of these would nor- maily be expected to keep the FDA from approving a drug. But the agency has not said if or when it may approve Acomplia. Even if this new prescription medicine gets a green light, don't expect a miracle in a bottle. Losing weight will still require exercise and dietary restraint. Editor's note: Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is a medical anthropolo- gist. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or via their website at Some banks talk relationships. We build them. What's the difference between a WSFS commercial banking relationship and one with another bank? That's easy, with WSFS you actually have one. Switch to WSFS Commercial Banking. And see how it feels to have a dedicated, one-on-one relationship with an expert who understands you, your business and how to make it grow. To learn more, call 1-888-WSFSBANK. Or visit The switch is on. To WSFS Commercial Baiaklij. 1-888-WSFSBANK LISTED 2006 Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB $ Member FDIC