Quick Links: New Year News Roundup

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Here's a quick roundup of the top health stories of the week. Some are serious, some are interesting, and some are just plain weird!

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It's sad to read such judgmental comments directed towards those of us who have chosen weight loss surgery as a tool. Of course weight loss surgery for teens is controversial and with good reason, but some of these comments are derisive of the surgery in general and border on being personally offensive.

Yes, it is an extreme and drastic tool, but that's what it is. A tool. For some of us who have a life-long history of obesity, and many of us suffering from co-morbidities that threaten to shorten our lives, this tool works. We all have to choose the right tools for us. A person who loses their weight without surgery is not somehow "better" than one who does.

In terms of what works, it's about the individual. In terms of support and information, SparkPeople is about community. We are all working towards our goals together, and I hope that we can strive towards being less divisive and judgmental.

Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix. It requires hard work, dedication and determination. Yes, some people who have weight loss surgery regain the weight. There are a variety of reasons as to why. Sometimes they have not dealt with the emotional and psychological issues that led them to become obese in the first place. Sometimes they are not compliant with the rules that they are supposed to follow for their particular surgery. Sometimes they have a complication. Sometimes they fall off the wagon. Regardless, all people who lose weight (no matter what their method) run the risk of regaining that weight if they do not make permanent lifestyle changes.


When a person of any age is obese, and develops diabetes as the result of an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise, LOSING WEIGHT and living a healthier lifestyle can reverse the diabetes, or at the very least, reduce the need for medication. These news articles make it sound as if the WLS is a cure! It's the weight loss that changes a person's health, not the surgery!!! Report
anything that is invasive to the body should be avoided unless it is an absolute emergency. I think it is appalling that a teenage would feel the need for cosmetic surgery. What does that say about our society? Report
OOPS! I forgot a key word to make my rant make sense...LOL! I meant."NOT pencil-thin and impossible to maintain." Report
We are born w/ a certailn body type...but it is left up to us to get it in shape. I have fought weight issues all my life and tried to get the easy solution w/ results that would make you shake your finger vigorously. The best way to deal w/ weight issues is to eat healthy and exercise. As for doctors, try using a psychiatrist for results. They can help you to love yourself and have enough self-esteem to accept yourself as you are. Remember, all those photos in mags of models and celebs are touched up and NOT REAL! These people have the $$$$ and resources to "cheat" the average woman into thinking they can look like them. Try looking at maybe someone like Valerie Bertinelli or Queen Latifah. These are way more believable stories and they have gotten themselves to an acceptable appearance and something pencil-thin and impossible to maintain. Doctors and drug companies screwed me up at the age of 15 and started a cycle that lasted 35+ yrs. Report
Half of all people who have Weight Loss Surgery gain ALL the weight back again after two years when they stretch out their stomachs again. Unless they stop emotional eating, it isn't a cure. Read "Shrink Yourself" by Roger Gould, M.D. on stress and regaining weight. Report
My neice 40 had lap band surgery the same day I started eating healthy. That was almost a year ago. I have lost more weight then her. Is it easier to have surgery then to restrict food and change life style before you think about surgery Report
While I'm all for finding ways to combat diabetes in anyone, teens or otherwise, I'm not at all pleased that once again WLS is being pushed as the solution. No one knows how this surgery will affect people over the long haul, and to perform it on young people who's bodies are still developing, and will have to live with the aftermath for the remainder of their lives, is far to risky and not worth the chance as far as I can see. A better alternative is to teach these kids the tools needed to lose the weight in a healthy manner and learn the needed lifeskills to maintain the lifestyle for the remainder of their lives.

As for the drug makers, this gesture is merely a ruse to regain peoples' faith in them. I for one, am not impressed and have a great distaste for the entire industry. Additionally, my faith in the medical community is rather thin, and I'm not willing to be a guinea pig for either industry! There should be law that prohibits the doctors from any and all deals made with the drug companies, after all we're not talking about coaches and sneaker deals, these drugs are often dangerous and unnecessary but are prescribed because they are readily available and the insurance companies will pay for them without hesitation! What an ugly web of deceit and greed! Report
Stepfanie, Thanks for popping in and bringing that site address for our President-elect Barack Obama. WOW, he is quite an inspiration (handsome too, but that's besides the point) and a real 'poster boy' for fitness too! DANG! He isn't just 'doing' this for a 'please the people' please-er... it's been a way of life for him since he was 22! He's SPARKIN' isn't he?!! and yes... he'll lay off the cigarettes, blah, blah, blah... he will. Sheesh, it's not like he's smoking a pack or two a day... he'll quit, all in good time. Report
I think the lipodiesel idea is a good one, I could run my car for quite awhile. It may be a good use for all that fat, and probably would be good for different way to rid the world of it, not sure just what they do with it now to get rid of it, but it must take up room someplace. Report
lipo fuel just sounds gross, how did this guy ever get it out of the facility?? I do have a concern with the beriactric surgery on children since it is not recommended for them due to potential complications and age. As far as the drug companies go--I feel indifferent about it, I dont use their pens anyway. Once is awhile a doctor would give me a stack of sticky note pads just to get them out of the office because he had to many. No great loss. Report
I'll admit that I found the story on the doctor who used lipo suctioned fat to fuel his girlfriend's car, fascinating. Exactly, what did he do to process the fat into a fuel ? I know that many cultures use manure for fuel because of the methane.

but really, how did this guy manage to process the fat ?

Of course, how did he manage to get the fat out of the hospital ? I'm sure there must be health safety disposal proceedures for the lip suctioned fat. It is still a biohazard, isn't it ?

Well, it strikes me that the big three auto manufacturers should have a chat with man. If he figured out how to use body fat for fuel, there must be other safe products that can be used for car fuel instead of gas.

You know how doctors AND pharmacists receive up-to-date information how medications can be used to help diseases? How they receive conclusive evidence as to new drug trials, and possible off-label indications for medications they might not be aware of (such as tri-cyclic antidepressants to help fibromyalgia)?

From pharmaceutical representatives, who go through amazingly difficult continuing education because DOCTORS DON'T HAVE TO!

Yes, that "evil drug rep" knows more about medications than your doctor and pharmacist, who won't get the most recent information if they don't see the reps. They are EDUCATORS,not salespeople! Most doctors - good doctors - are very happy to see drug reps, because they want to provide the best care possible.

Kickbacks (trips, dinners, etc.) became illegal many years ago (and let's not forget that other industries used them as well). As far as pens, tissue boxes, etc. - when a rep has less than a minute to tell a doctor how his medicine can work to HEAL YOU, something with the name printed on it is a help... but the companies have VOLUNTARILY decided to stop doing this so that the public will stop perceiving them as the enemy.

If you want years-out-of-date medications that don't do the job as well, by all means - prevent your physician from meeting with any pharmaceutical reps. His education and methods of treating you will become out-of-date very soon.

And by the way, do some research on "generic equivalents" - they really can vary to a vast degree from name-brand medications in bio-availabilty, as well as contain other ingredients; medications produced in other countries may not undergo the same scrutiny as those produced here.

Drug companies routinely provide medications free of charge to those who can't afford it; they also provide immunizations and other medications to third world countries for FREE.

Pharmaceutical companies and reps aren't evil... so think about it for a minute. Who is trying to make you THINK that they are? And WHY? Report
Shows how much I pay attention to the little things. I never knew Obama smoked! Report
I don't like surgery for teens either. My granddaughter is over weight and for a while she was dropping weight really good. Walking and watching but then school started and it seemed all the work of the summer,.all the pounds lost, just came right back. A life style change is need, not surgery. Report
I'm a little disturbed by the weight loss surgery for teens. Granted, these teens (who are not children, btw) certainly need help in losing weight, this is definitely not the answer. I say this every single time: the only way to lose is to move, period. I know several severely overweight teens, and what is most frightening is the way they eat. High fat, high carb, sugary foods are all they know. Two of these teens can't even walk a short city block without becoming out of breath. I've run into the parents in the grocery store, and instead of having these girls help or walking, they stay out in the car either listening to their iPods or playing a video game.

Another lady I know was able to defeat her gastric bypass surgery. She won't reduce her caloric intake, nor will she move. Surgery is not the answer. Report
I know that cars run on used restaurant grease usually smell like food or french fries ... what the *&^$ does his car smell like????????? Report
Seriously..i'm GLAD this is happening, but it isn't nearly enough. The drug companies practically own some doctors. I know they supposedly stopped giving gifts a few years ago, but frankly, i don't believe it.
True Story #1..i used to go to a now-defunct clinic in my area on a weekly basis. If my appointment was for 12:45, and the drug rep just happened to drop by 'to say hi' at 12:44, i wasn't going to be able to walk into that office and be seen until he left. The drug reps are almost treated like rock stars at clinics like this, because the sliding-scale-fee type of community health centers are not as well-funded as others are, but the drug companies kicked the doctors free trips, lunches, and yes, sometimes money. A secretary told me about the money. Not checks..cash payouts.
True Story #2..last year, i was rushed out of my general practitioners office (and she's not sliding-scale). When i was leaving, there was a drug rep sitting on the sofa in the waiting room with a hot pizza sitting on the coffee table. You shoulda seen my doctor practically RUN to the sofa with a big cheese-eating grin on her face. You'd have thought she hadn't had a meal in years.
True Story #3..about 7 years ago, i was placed on a certain medication. It was the worst drug i have ever taken in my life. I felt like i was 5 steps behind the rest of the world. I slept a lot, couldn't concentrate, and was just dragging. I begged Dr. Oz (not the one on TV..this was an old bitty) to take me off of it and to let me try something new. She refused. She wouldn't even try another drug to see if it would work better.
That clinic closed down about 8 months after i started going there, and some of the staff ended up working at another clinic around the corner from there. I started going to the second clinic, and that's when i found out why Dr. Oz wouldn't change the medication. It's because she was being PAID by the drug company to push it. She was paid a certain amount of money based on the number of prescriptions she wrote for that manufacturers' drugs.
That was a lesson i never forgot, and to this day, i don't trust doctors when they try to get me to try a new med. I will not try anything new until i've read everything i can on it on the Net, and i go to chatrooms for people who have my particular health issues and see if anyone has been/is taking it, and how they reacted to it.
True Story #4..One of the doctors i see now is based in an office where they not only treat regular patients, but they also conduct clinical trials there. He has been trying to get me to try a drug that is currently being advertised on TV. The commercial is really nice, and the music is really pretty. However, when they start talking about the side effects..well, it seems like it takes almost as much time to talk about the side effects as it does to introduce the product ! When i asked him if they he wanted me to try it because they did trials on it, his face turned red as he stammered his answer..."nn-nn-noo". Yeah, right.
True Story #5..last one..my uncle is a doctor, and he was not thrilled a few years back when a particular drug company could no longer finance the trip to his yearly medical convention across the country. Report
I don't mind the drug companies banning things like pens and such but I hope they don't ban the trials of new medicines. It's no use to pay for a medicine, take 2 or 3 only to find out you are allergic to it or that it doesn't work, and have an entire prescription bottle left over. Trials of drugs are still very much needed, but the trinkets, pens and such, I have no disagreement with going by the wayside. Report
I feel a little dorky saying this, but I've been really inspired by Barack Obama's dedicatio to exercise. He's super busy--if *he* can fit it in, *I* can fit it in! Report
Teens should not have weight loss surgery, they should take a mandatory course on weight loss. . .even if it hurts their self esteem, in the long run it will help them. Hey maybe in the course they could join spark people and learn to live a healthy lifestyle. Also perhaps the parents should be with them when they take the course, cause arent those bad habits learned???? Report
Two women at my church had weight loss surgery at about the same time I began a new way of eating.

We were all about the same weight 250-300 lbs Today i have lost more weight than both of them.
The developer of the surgery says it is not uncommon for people to put the weight back on. I believe it is because they are not making good food or exercise choices.
Anything worth having is worth working at.

I also have to say I wonder how healthy the surgery will be long term...

I'm all for drug companies being banned from leaving things and buying stuff. I worked for a doctor's office and I can't even begin to tell you all the crap we got. Not to mention it was a waste of time! They came during patient hours and lunch time....the last thing I want to do on my free time in the day is spend it listening to the sales pitch for a drug!

As to the complex carb post, complex carbs are GOOD. They are "complex" because they contain high amounts of fiber which ISN'T broken down to glucose (the fuel for the body). The problem is REFINED sugar and carbs. Those are already broken down and are IMMEDIATELY taken into the blood stream to raise blood glucose levels. The body breaks food down into 3 things: glucose, amino acid, fat. You need some carbs to help fuel the system; people need to be educated on making smart choices to avoid diabetic issues. Report
Since I do work in a Drs. office, I can tell you that the ban on "trinkets" will do nothing but raise the Drs costs. These items cost the drug companies next to nothing. The reps still bring the free lunches.(Our Docs do not allow detailing on patient time) They will still be bringing the drug samples. A reputable physician will not pass out new drugs to their patients until there has been sufficient data to prove them safe. Most of the stuff that has pulled from the markets in the previous years, was never prescribed at our practice. We do however rely heavily on the ink pens, tissues, scratch pads etc that the reps are no longer able to leave, to keep costs down.. Since so many patients walk out with boxes of tissues & ink pens, it has been a cost cutter to not have to purchase them. Now we'll have to go back to keeping ink pens on a string, and those various other things that people take for granted will no longer be availabe. (Have you priced a box of tissue lately? and drs. do not get a discount.) We easily lose 50 ink pens a day and 10 boxes of tissues a day during cold season. Who do you think is going to pay for that? Report
I've seen how Drs. are influenced by the pharmacitical companies. They pass out drugs and don't won't to take you off them even if the numbers are normal for over a year. They like to say the drugs keep them low and that going off them will only make the numbers go up and so back on the drugs. Report
The sample medications can definitely be of benefit to some, but everywhere you look in the doctors office there are advertisements for perscription drugs, from the pens you write your check with at the checkout counter to the Kleenex boxes and magazines in the waiting room. There definitely needs to be limits. Report
I'm glad they banned drug company trinkets. I used to work for an internal medicine practice back in the 90s. While getting free lunches at work three days a week was a big help for my budget, all the money they spent on swag was money that came directly out of the pockets of taxpayers and of people who were spending entirely too much money on prescription drugs. Like the retiree I'd encountered in the Army who'd never been told he could fill civilian-written prescriptions at an Army pharmacy. He looked literally sick when I explained it to him.

The head doc at my practice was talking to a drug rep one day and told the rep that instead of sending his patients with mental health issues to get therapy, he just put them on meds instead. That significantly lowered my opinion of him but the drug rep just ate it up.

Something like 100,000 people die from prescription medication problems every year, and many of them were not overdoses. The practices of the pharmaceutical industry are directly connected to this. You can also lay things like increased antibiotic resistance directly at their feet. I hope there will be a reckoning. They're getting off awfully light so far, not having to spend money anymore on giving away free pens.

As for the diabetes and gastric surgery study? *I'm* sick to read it. Know why the kids who used dietary intervention didn't reverse their diabetic symptoms? Because "experts" out there are still telling them to cut their fat intake and that "complex carbs" are good for them. If you can digest a particular carbohydrate molecule, it always breaks down into sugar. What is diabetes? A disease of sugar metabolism. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. They need to take these kids OFF grain foods and emphasize fruits and vegetables instead (also carb foods but way more diabetic-friendly!). Dietary fat's not the problem. It never was. Insulin is the hormone responsible for fat storage and you don't have an insulin release when you eat fat. More and more doctors are getting savvy to this. Too bad Cincinnati Children's isn't, and they're going to kill a lot of children that way. They say the long-term effects of bypass surgery are "unknown"? That's bullhockey. They know very well it leads to increased mortality in adults. There's no reason that wouldn't be true for teenagers too. Next thing you know they'll be mutilating the stomachs of small children and they will shake their heads and tsk-tsk and be mystified when those kids get to high school and drop dead. *anger* Report
I don't believe weight loss surgery is the right thing to do for anyone, teen or otherwise. If weight loss surgery is to be done, I believe that exercise and diet have to become your routine before the surgery is even tried. I know someone who lost her mother after having weight loss surgery because people were still waiting on her hand and foot instead of her getting up and moving. (If I remember correctly it was from a blood clot.)

I couldn't find the Obama's SparkStreak, Stepfanie.
The weight loss surgery for teens was a little muddled- stating 'teens' but using ages 14-21 yrs. Can I ask WHERE were the parents, teachers, gym coaches, family doctors... or even friends with concerned parents, while these young people PUSHED scales to 250, and up to 403 pounds?!!
Were they just standing around WATCHING the years roll by in mental lethargy?!! C'mon, we're talking children here! Were all the adults in some kind of insane spell- to drowsy, dull, listless, un-energetic, indifferent, lazy; unaware, UNCONSCIOUS, apathetic, sluggish, inactive TRANCE over the health of a child? It's like a huge VOID in compassion, emotion, passion... WOW! What savagery to eventually put them under the surgery knife to wave their magic wands and take away all those years of nutrition abuse.
Well... I am HAPPY for the children- HAPPY they can look in the mirror and feel pretty or handsome- HAPPY they won't have to listen to any of the cruelties from their peers (though it's going to take YEARS to heal all the emotional abuse) and now... I will always have these children (or any children suffering, like them) in my heart, Stepfanie.

P.S. I'm all for NO freebies. My medical charts SHOW what works, but then I get some 'try this' drug that doesn't and I'm out costs and still need medication... and I've even had doctors run me through that scenario a couple of times each visit (like a merry-go-round) when it CLEARLY shows what works!!
P.S.S. Dr. Bittner (radiologist- not plastic surgeon) took some 'how to' course on liposucting and showed his 'assistants' but then got 'greedy' and disfigured patients! Now, he's hiding/basking away down in some South American country... Do you think that overweight people like me, brainwashed to be FAT by all the fast foods, commercial propaganda, and over processed junk on grocery shelves, were... unknowing 'harvests' for fuel?!! HAHAHAHAHA!!
P.S.S.S. This was kinda' confusing because research found a gene that regulates sodium (STK39) in one Old Order Amish area, but then reports a different 'mutation' that reduces triglycerides... while still using many of the Old Order Amish from different areas... so, this could be like 'harvesting' too? LOL!! Seriously, if it's a link to healthier people, why is it called a mutation and not a revelation?!! Report
I think it would be a mistake if the drug companies stopped giving the freebies to the doctors because it can give the patient a chance to try it to see if it works for their bodies before they get a prescription. Nothing like getting a prescription for a drug that doesn't work, cause you can't return it to the pharmacy and you've then just wasted a lot of money. Report
Having been without medical insurance for 20 years, I relied on those free samples of medication my Dr. gave me with every visit. Medications are expensive!!! Do you think the drug companies will pass the savings on to us??? NO WAY!!! They will say that the Dr's aren't prescribing enough of THEIR medication so they'll have to raise the prices. Give me a break! Report
Aw...my house is filled with trinkets, fridge magnets, etc., from the MS drugs I take... But seriously, if they'd lower the price of these expensive meds (one is about $17,000/year, and it's vital for preventing relapses for me), I'd be thrilled. So fewer bells and whistles, please! Report
No comments on lipodiesel yet? LOL! I don't know whether to be impressed or nauseous... Report
Here's hoping that Obama's attention to health and an increased awareness of pharma's big-money practices will bring about REAL reform in health care - as a society, we need to stop wasting money on corporate overhead and develop a health care system that uses our limited resources to improve health for everyone. Report
I feel a little sad at the drug companies ban on trinkets. Whenever I went to chemo, the nurses would pass along goodies they got from the pharmaceutical companies. Report
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