Daily Archives: October 24th, 2008

Health Alert (5): New Slimming Pill Banned

The European Union(EU) drugs watchdog agency has recommended that doctors stop prescribing one of the latest anti-obesity drugs – rimonabant – which is marketed as Acomplia.

Acomplia...from hero to zero

In a press release dated 23rd October 2008 ,The European Medicines Agency(EMEA) has said the risk of serious psychiatric problems and even suicide are too high in those taking this medicine. This drug was introduced end-2006 and is widely available in most Asian countries as well as the EU. In Great Britain alone, it is estimated that 97,000 have been prescribed this drug. To its credit, the United States FDA rejected its sale in the USA.

This medication has been marketed as an adjunct to diet & exercise for the treatment of obese patients and initial reports seemed to show good results on those who have tried it. To be fair, the makers Sanofi-Aventis had warned doctors not to prescribe this drug to those on anti-depressants or those with a history of depression.

However, recent studies, even by the makers themselves, revealed double the risk of psychiatric illness in those taking it. In a clinical trial between June-August this year, there were five suicides among patients taking it.

Click here if you wish to look at more  Q&As on Acomplia.

The message here is that, sometimes, its better to go for time-tested medications than to jump for every new kid on the block.

You Are What You Eat,Period

The Heart Attack Burger...worth dying for? (actually sold in an outlet in Arizona)

The mainstream media was awash yesterday with articles proclaiming that the Western diet raises the risk of getting a heart attack. Whether it was the BBC, AFP, ABC or Reuters, they all described a study where 16,000 people in 52 countries  were studied according to what they ate and their risk of getting a heart attack.

The study categorised their dietary patterns into 3 groups:

  • The Western Diet – emphasis on salty snacks,fried foods, and to a lesser extent, meat.
  • The Oriental Diet- high on tofu and soy products, including soy sauce.
  • The Prudent Diet- rich in fruits and veggies.

It wasn’t a surprise to find out that those on the Western Diet had a 35% greater risk of getting a heart attack whereas those on the Prudent Diet had a 33% lowering of the risk. The researchers gave a neutral score for the Oriental Diet as they felt that the salt in soy sauce neutralised the protective effects of soya.

My criticism of this study is that it oversimplifies matters concerning eating habits and tends to give the impression that fruits and vegetables are the perfect solution and that all Western diet are bad.

The fact of the matter is, whether you are in Maine, Mumbai or Malaysia, you need to reduce salty, oily, fried or fatty foods,period. The style of cooking is what matters. That includes reducing the intake of fried veggies in favour of raw or lightly blanched styles. Taking fried kai-lan in oyster sauce will only serve to destroy the protective effects of the veggies. Similarly, a lean cut of grilled tenderloin is much better than pan-fried rib-eye, if taken in moderation, due to the lower fat content.

In today’s egalitarian society, its certainly not heartening to note that heart attacks are no longer an affliction of only the rich, perhaps a reflection of improper eating habits irrespective of social status. Heart disease is a problem that needs to be addressed by all strata of society – and this begins with you being what you eat.

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