Economics Health Innovation obesity Science

I’m not fat – I have a disease!

Hooray! After 27 years of suffering through being Really Really Fat I have FINALLY been given the answer I was looking for - it is NOT my fault and my fatness is a disease with a name! No, it's not diabetes or hypothyroidism. Those have been around for many years and all Really Really Fat people have been tested for those at least twice in their lives. The new disease is Metabolic Syndrome. It's symptoms are:
  • Obesity (particularly around the waist)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Insulin resistance
OMG I am so stoked. The Mayo Clinic says if I have any one of these symptoms, I'm totally in the running for Metabolic Syndrome. Now my obesity can be attributed to my high blood pressure and high cholesterol and not the other way around! This Syndrome was brought to my attention by the latest issue of Wired magazine, which usually just tells me about science I can't understand, technology I'll never be able to afford and biological & environmental achievements the government can never get behind. So why are they talking about my Fatness? Well, this new Metabolic Syndrome is a big hit with "Big Pharma" (and Wired loves to write about Big Pharma). Give a group of symptoms a fancy name and the pharmaceutical companies will find a miracle drug for it. Apparently the old name for Metabolic Syndrome - obesity - was just not.....selling. In the Wired article, they cite business owner and Kentuckian Karen Cunningham who gained weight after her pregnancy. She "couldn't shake the weight" and went to "various specialists" to tell her what was wrong. Apparently "lose weight and you won't feel like shit anymore" was NOT the answer she was looking for. Her answer was "Metabolic Syndrome."
The breakthrough came last December when her new endocrinologist diagnosed her with something called metabolic syndrome. She'd never heard of it. As she Googled to learn more, her chronic ailments – the weight, the high blood pressure, the lack of energy – started to make sense. They even seemed treatable. She's now on Glucophage and Avandia (which both regulate blood sugar) and has lost 20 pounds by cutting out carbohydrates. "Getting a diagnosis was a relief," Cunningham says. "I have hope now, whereas I didn't have any before."
Wow ok so you have....the beginnings of Type II diabetes and eat too much sugar and starch. That's pretty much what Dr. Robert Atkins was telling the world for 30 years before he died in 2003. Some people - not all people, but a good chunk of them - have bodies that just can't deal with insulin-raising carbs. Some are diabetic, some are just plain fat. People went berzerk over this claim. Doctors yelled and screamed, scientists wagged fingers. Me, I lost 90 lbs. But fuck all of that healthy eating stuff. I mean, "going on Atkins" means cutting our sugar and starch, eating more low-sugar fruits and veg, and eating whole grains. Yeah, and eating meat too (but not gobs of butter rolled in bacon smothered in cheese). Why should I have to eat like that if there's a PILL that will "cure" me of my new-found disease? You bet your sweet bippy there's a pill, too. Now that Atkins has died things have gotten awful skeevy on the "low carb" frontier. His company is pretty much a manufactured crap food warehouse now. Doctors and scientists are taking his ideas seriously now. But instead of having to claim he was right while he was alive and giving people the non-pharmaceutical way to fight your body's stupidity, they waited until he was dead so there'd be no one around to tell people "just stop eating sugar" so they could instead say "try this magic pill." The new pill is rimonabant. So far, human trials have shown that the only side effects are depression and anxiety. But those also happen to be side effects of being Really Really Fat. So what's the harm? It doesn't quite matter, because now Big Pharma has a disease and a pill to combat this disease. Without a disease, HMOs aren't likely to let you get the pill. And like any drug, doctors are going to be eventually pushed into prescribing it - to quell the pushy pharm reps and to quell their fatass patients who say "nothing I do works." I will come clean and say that while I did lose 90 lbs, I am still fat. I lost 90 and put back on 50 (truth be told, I was still fat after losing 90). Why? Well my body sucks. It's high maintenence. And I am too lazy to maintain it. It's my lot in life that I have a high maintenence body. Some do, some don't. I'm living proof that "get up off your butt and move" doesn't really mean the same for everyone. I could eat and move the same as someone else and probably still be fat. But I recognize the difference. I do have to watch what I eat and I do have to bust my ass. C'est la vie. I didn't gain weight because what I did didn't work for me. I gained weight because I stopped doing what worked for me. Duh. So now it seems that I have a choice. Get back on that high-intensity workout regimen again, or go with the "Metabolic Syndrome" wave and get a pill to fix me. I don't think I'm ready to give up the fight just yet. Maybe it's the Puritan in me that feels like I should be punishing myself for my "failing" instead of taking the insta-cure. The lack of serious side effects (such as bleeding from the eyes and exploding diarrhea) is pretty tempting if you consider some of the side effects of previous "fat" drugs like uh...speed and phen-phen. All you get is some depression (which, like I said, most of "us" already have). But the side effects of ass-kicking exercise are lack of depression and a good night's sleep. Perhaps some weight loss along the way. For now, I'll stick with that and not let myself be pigeonholed into some "disease" which has caused my "affliction." What would you do it you could take a pill and cure your "fat"? Would you do it? Would you even believe it could be possible? Check with me in 20 years, though. If I'm in my late 40's and still fat and single, perhaps I will have changed my mind.