New Anti-Obesity Drug Qnexa Receives FDA Advisory Panel Approval

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Although I have lost my weight through the long drawn out process of diet and exercise, a drug, Qnexa, is showing some promise.

The second time’s a charm for Vivus’s experimental obesity drug Qnexa, at least when it comes to FDA advisory panel votes.

As the WSJ reports, one of the agency’s advisory panels today backed approval of the drug by a decisive 20-2 vote. The FDA — which often but not always follows the advice of its outside panels — is due to make its decision by April 17.

If the drug is approved, it would be the first new prescription weight-loss drug in over a decade. Qnexa combines low doses of two existing drugs: phentermine, which cuts appetite, and topiramate, now used to combat seizures and migraines.

Back in July 2010, FDA advisors voted against approving Qnexa by a margin of 10-6. The FDA itself nixed the drug later in the year, requesting more safety information.

Vivus submitted additional clinical data to the FDA in an attempt to allay its concerns. It’s not clear whether that will be enough to satisfy the agency, though. In briefing documents released ahead of today’s meeting, the FDA raised concerns about possible effects on the heart and about birth defects.

But it also noted that Qnexa produced “significant” weight loss in the first year of treatment, with some regain in the second year.

So, we will see if the FDA grants full approval.

This drug may provide the jump start that people need to start on the road to better health. It is probably not a panacea.


Poll Watch: Obese Americans Report Higher Rates of Daily Pain

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According to the latest Gallup Poll.

U.S. adults who are obese report higher rates of daily pain than those who are not, according to Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index surveys of more than 1 million Americans. In fact, the higher an individual’s Body Mass Index (BMI) score, the more likely he or she is to report experiencing pain, with 44.1% of those with BMIs of 40 or higher saying so.

Gallup and Healthways calculate BMI scores based on respondents’ self-reports of their height and weight collected as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Respondents answered questions about pain between 2008 and 2010, including if they experienced pain yesterday and if they had pain conditions in the last year.

Sixty-three percent of the 1,010,762 people who responded to the survey were classified as overweight (38%) or obese (25%). Obese respondents were further classified into one of three obesity levels as defined by the World Health Organization.

And, the link is stronger among women and older Americans.

Additionally, as Americans age, excess weight is associated with even more pain — especially for people aged 40 and older. This finding suggests a developmental process in which individuals who have chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis or other rheumatic diseases, may reduce their physical activity levels, which in turn leads to elevated BMIs. Alternately, older, normal-weight Americans were only slightly more likely than younger Americans to report daily pain.

I am adverse to pain and am happily reducing my BMI.

Now, I weigh 228 and with my height of 5’11” will have to reach 214 pounds to shed myself of the obese category. I will then be overweight until I reduce to 185 or so.

It will probably be another year before I have reduced to a normal weight.

But, it is well worth it.


Will Overeating Contribute to Memory Loss?

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Yes, actually doubling the risk of memory loss, according to a new study.

New research suggests that consuming between 2,100 and 6,000 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people age 70 and older.

The study was just released and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21 to April 28, 2012. MCI is the stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer’s disease.

“We observed a dose-response pattern which simply means; the higher the amount of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk of MCI,” said study author Yonas E. Geda, MD, MSc, with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

At my current weight of 230 pounds, I am eating around 1900 net calories. Of course, this will decrease, with my reduction in body weight.

But, at least I am under the threshold of daily calories at present.

The odds of having MCI more than doubled for those in the highest calorie-consuming group compared to those in the lowest calorie-consuming group. The results were the same after adjusting for history of stroke, diabetes, amount of education, and other factors that can affect risk of memory loss. There was no significant difference in risk for the middle group.

“Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age,” said Geda.


Most Americans Fudge on Weight and Height Surveys?

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NOT surprisingly the answer is yes.

When people in the U.S. are asked to provide their weight for research surveys, they underestimate their weight and overestimate their height, despite numerous public reports about increasing rates of obesity. Whites are more likely to do so than Blacks or Hispanics, a new study finds.

Wen and her colleague, Lori Kowaleski-Jones, Ph.D., found that in all ethnic groups, both men and women overestimate their height. Women also under-report their BMI more than men do, and White women are more likely to do so compared to Black and Hispanic women. The authors speculated this was because White women have a stronger social “desire for a lean body” and were more acutely aware of their weight problems. Those who were overweight, in the oldest age group and who had a college education were also more likely to under-report their BMI.

The researchers said, however, the under-reporting bias is “generally small” with the range of difference between measured and self-reported BMI falling within the 1 BMI unit range.

Wen said their results highlight the care that should be taken when making comparisons of BMI across different U.S. socio-demographic groups.

I think it is only natural to flatter yourself in these surveys or underestimate your own pathology.

Unfortuantely, using the My Fitness Pal application with my weight-loss peers, I am brutally honest. And, I have a way to go!


Junk Food in Schools Linked to Obesity?

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Apparently not, according to a new study.

Having access to junk food at school did not cause middle schoolers to gain weight, according to a longitudinal study.

Data from a nearly 20,000-student study showed that in the 1998-1999 school year, 59.2% of fifth graders and 86.3% of eighth graders in the U.S. attended schools that sold junk food, Jennifer Van Hook, PhD, and doctoral candidate Claire Altman, of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, found.

Eight years later, although there was a significant increase in the percentage of students attending schools that sold junk food, there was no corresponding rise in the percentage of students who were overweight or obese, they reported in Sociology of Education.

Junk food is certainly MORE available outside the school environment.

But, do students really eat any of the foods in the school cafeteria any more – whether healthy or not?