Exercise in a Bottle and Other Horror Stories...

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You’ve probably noticed that, nearly every day, there’s another story in the news about some newly discovered gene or hormone or enzyme that could explain why some people get obese. Not why everyone who is obese got that way, mind you, but what might be causing part of the problem for some percentage of us. It’s fast becoming obvious that “obesity” is not one condition that’s the same for everyone—it’s a whole bunch of different conditions with a shared symptom: excess body fat.

The upside of this explosion of research and data (which has been made possible largely by the success of the Human Genome Project) is that it may lead someday to a number of effective treatments for obesity that will work much better than the one-size-fits-all approach of diet modification and exercise that most of us rely on now. It would certainly help a great deal, for example, to know exactly how your individual body is “programmed” to handle different nutrients like carbs and fat, and exactly how it uses the specific foods you eat, so that you can design a weight management plan tailored to your exact needs—maybe even before you get overweight. This capability may not be that far off in the future.

The downside of these developments is that many of these new solutions for the problem of obesity may come in the form of a pill, or a genetically modified food, or even a genetically modified human being. That’s going to raise a lot of interesting…and troubling…questions.

Which means that now might be a very good time to start thinking about how far down this road we really want to go, both as individuals and as citizens of our respective societies. Consider these two very real possibilities…

Exercise in a bottle.

What if you could get most of the weight-loss benefits of cardio exercise by taking an exercise pill? Would you do it? Would it be worth trading all the other benefits of exercise for the convenience of burning some extra fat calories while sitting on your butt? Sure, such a pill would be great for people who really can’t exercise, but what about the rest of us? Would you rather be thin thanks to a pill, without changing your lifestyle, or do you think it’s better to do the work yourself and have that to be proud of, too? Is there more to physical activity than just burning calories? What message would using a pill like this send to the next generation about what’s most important?


The prospect of using genetic screening to identify individual problems that could lead to obesity and all its attendant health risks could also lead to the development of special diets and “designer foods” designed to match your individual metabolism. When you head for the health foods or diet foods section of your local supermarket, you won’t find just low-fat or low-carb versions of regular foods, you’ll find complete meals that look like those frozen “texturized vegetable protein patties” and contain everything you need for balanced nutrition, with nothing that could trigger those problem genes of yours to store extra fat. Maybe the powers that be will decide that, if you’ve got the kind of genes that lead to obesity, you’ll have to eat these specially designed products only, or pay your own way when it comes to getting medical care for obesity-related problems.

I don’t know about you, but I think food ought to be…well, food—not some “edible food like substance” engineered by scientists. Food and eating isn’t just about nutrition and health. (I’m a big fan of Michael Pollan’s point of view in his book In Defense of Food. But more about that in another blog…)

Anyway, it seems pretty clear to me that there’s a lot more at stake here than just making it easier to lose weight and avoid health problems. There are lots of big questions here about the effects of the individual decisions we make on the society around us, about individual freedom and responsibility, and about how we manage science and technology so that we control it and it doesn’t control us. And no simple or easy answers. It’s going to take a lot of thinking and talking about these things to come up with good approaches.

What do you think?

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Taking a pill to control weight/size reminds me a lot of the fable "Alice in Wonderland". Alice could drink a potion and become larger or smaller to suit the circumstances she found herself confronting (a large body through a tiny door, etc)
Not sure if any pill could take the place of a nutritious diet and exercise and using the principles of Spark to help support and motivate you.
However, a pill can be a lifesaver for some people if the science behind it can be proven and validated as has been done with medication for thyroid problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and so on. It should be remembered that a great deal of caution should also be used in deciding to take any pill -- so many medications approved by the FDA have had spectacularly fatal results and been pulled from the market. Just listening to all the commercials and advertisements on TV and the radio these days should be a lesson -- the long list of potential side effects is soooooooooo long as to make me shudder! You could be trading one problem for a boatload of trouble!
This blog is valuable in giving many people the opportunity to voice their opinions and whether they would try such a remedy if it was available. My choice may be much more on the side of "not for me", but I certainly would not be able to make that decision for anyone else.
Sometimes the comments do seem quite harsh and difficult to read -- especially on a website that is intended to be a support for those individuals who have tried and failed at managing their weight for so many years.
Make your choices, be grateful you have the ability to do so, but try not to be so critical of others who may have a different opinion. I'm just saying........... Report
I love the idea that a designer food could help me get exactly what my body needs in nutrition without my having to prepare, cook, clean and do dishes. I would still want 'real' food sometimes, but for me, I don't like most foods enough to miss it. (especially healthy foods! man i hate salad!) Report
Well I was in a weight loss study at Stanford. After it ended I still get contacted for follow up studies. I recently had genetic testing and regarding what type of weight loss will work for me. I was in the must do high intensity cardio, not low intensity. I was not surprised, in fact I expected those results. The fact that I hoped it would be low intensity doesn't count!! ha ha! Report
Sign me up!

I do read all the comments for the post #65. It is interesting how many people stay for exercising and diet. I am agree with post # 68, what is difference between pills and diet? It is not the choice. I am agree with post #81 and post #67.

Those who is so protect exercising do not see that people who are overweight is not inactive. We do a lot of work! I do go to gym club for six years now, I did not lose weight. I stopped to get bigger but I do not go smaller. I do not like the word "Diet". I get fat from that word. I can get pounds from glass of water. Lately I get information that it is really true - bacteria in colon, stress hormone, so on.

I take that magic not pill but drink. I lost a little bit more then 10Lbs, I will lost more I know this. I know person who takes that drink TAIslim, and he is great., he lost over 50 Lbs. He dropped his insulin, and I hope to get out of my diabetes. I do have big progress. It is my heart rate. What is different to take med for diabetes, vitamins, or pills to lose weight?
It is not long time ago diabetes 2 was taken into consideration. Now we know about pregnancy that it can lead to diabetes 2. So why it is so unacceptable to take pills that will help fight weight ? Another word about exercise. I am sure that in future people will see us in gym club and have sorry about us. Do people consider how many hours we lost in gym club? I will never go there if I do have choice. I have work to do. I like hiking, traveling, swimming, and so on. I do not want to post big post. I just think why it takes so long to create these pills? Human beings are already cloned, and we are dealing with pounds! Anyway is cloned beef got to the market now? How does it effect our bodies? How do I know what beef I put today in my "healthy"diet pot? I am not sure if it is not cloned. Anyway all our food is not completely organic. And even so, does people who took only organic food in past lived longer then we live now? Thanks to progress. Let pill to be. I'm sure it is just mater of time. Go to Google. Check up TAIslim, and be my guest, read my posts about TAIslim.
If there was a pill I could take to make me thin or some designer food I'd be all over that like white on rice. And I'd pay a lot of money for it too. Sign me up! Report
I am not real sure what the title to the song is but it may be "In The Year 2525", where it talks about a pill you take for meals, you have no arms or legs for we have not used them in the past........and so on.......my gosh, maybe it is all leading up to that point Report
I don't think anything will take the place of good old fashion exercise. They may come come out with a pill that melts the fat off you but at what cost. Exercise is what strengthens your muscles and your bone. I don't see a pill that would be able to do it. As the saying goes. Use it or lose it. I want my body to look good just not be thinner. Report
Maybe I'm weird, but I like the feeling of accomplishment after a workout. I like going through a hard sweat to get to the sweet feeling of achievement.

Plus, I would never give up REAL food for something like it. I looooove food...uh..probably what got me in this situation in hte first place ;) Report
All i can think of is phen phen it was supposed to be safe.. My sister took it and now will have heart problems the rest of her life .. it is not worth it .. i would rather walk or ride my bike.. it is a good blog and gives you something to think about Report
Many times I saw the commercials or artiles about those "amazing little pills" that melt the fat away. I could never bring myself to try one. It is too scary. How many have later been found to do serious damage to those who took them. Ther are some things we should not mess around with. Report
It's funny (not really), but before I started back with SP, I would look (not try) at pills like those fat enzyme busters, but since I've made this step by eating better and getting physical, I would see absolute no benefit to the pills. Even after only 3 weeks, I'm already seeing some definition in my body (don't get me wrong, I still have a long way to go), but a pill is not going help me get a sculptured body.

Besides, I do like food and I would rather try out new healthier recipes of old-time favorites than swallow tasteless pills. Report
This exercise in a bottle and messing with human beings in other ways reminds me of Brave New World. That is SO scary. Leave us alone, scientists! Eventually, we'll all be thinking this is the way is SHOULD be, and we will all be doomed. Report
If it sounds to good to be true, most likely it is!!! Nothing like exercising and having a good meal plan. Sadly if it were such a pill many would run to the hills to get it. Even with the crap out there they have now with instant this and you can rid cellulite with this "special cream" I can't believe how people fall for these gimmicks! Remember phen phen? It is not worth the health risk! Report
Not gonna lie, some days, exercise in a bottle sounds amazing...But only some days. Usually, getting up and moving feels a lot better than sitting around. Report
Comment on many of the comments regarding "exercise in a bottle" if it were to really exisit. It seems like most people against the idea seem to think its all one way or another. If someone were to take a pill then it means that person will do nothing but sit on their butt. Why can it not be a supplement on top of what someone is already doing? For myself I have a thyroid condition and have been struggling for about 3 years to stop the weight gain and then to lose it. And this is actually trying with watching what I eat, cardio, and weight lifting. For me a half pound loss in a week is a miracle, some weeks just maintaining is great. I would love a miracle pill that could make a difference. I dont expect it to happen and would not stop eating healthy food and trying to build muscle, but some sort of boost would be wonderful. Report
Well in regards to genetic screening and special diets....we already have that to a minor degree...and its a good thing for some cases. I worked as a student in a prenatal genetics lab where newborns had their blood automatically tested for a few things, one of them being phenylketonuria. The way it was explained to me at the time was that people that have this issue just need to avoid certain foods and they are fine, if the genetic screening is not done and the infants receive those foods then they can become severely mentally retarded by the time they are 3 years old. Admittedly its one of the few genetic diseases treatable by diet of detected early enough, but its a good example of the extremes between tested-treated versus untested-untreated. Report
I am pleased with the research that has led to the so-called exercise pill. I would not call it that though because I do not consider it a substitute for exercise but rather progress in the direction of understanding managing obesity and metabolic disease. I am rather skeptical about nutrigenomics, however. There is just too much conflict of interest when a single company can claim to determine the exact nutrients an individual needs and then sell that person a customized monthly supply of pills. No thanks. It is no more to be trusted than all the snake oil on store shelves right now. Report
I dont agree with the idea of a magic pill to burn calories but I have to admit that the idea of a diet geared to my particular genomic needs doesnt sound so horrible....that may actually be considered preventative health care!! If you have a particular leaning to disorders, ailments, diseases, etc, the doctor and nutritionist will advise certain dietary changes now so what is so terribly different with the healthfood industry packaging meals with all the benefits one would need to address the dietary side of one's health...now, of course, exercise is still a part of healthy living, so a special diet does not eliminate the need for activity to support the dietary program....
I also think that rewards should be given to those who do make the effort to leave obesity behind, such as reduced health care premiums etc...i think some health care plans already do this dont they? Report
Sad to say we are all looking for a quick fix. Well we didn't gain the weight overnight and we're not going to lose it overnight either! There are no quick fixes. Even the by-pass surgery take time & at that it's a drastic measure. For me I'd rather healthy & a little plump than super skinny!!! Report
There have been times when I had lost all hope of losing the weight without intervention. I felt like such a pathetic failure when I had to shop for clothes or became too exausted and overwhelmed AGAIN to continue with my efforts to lose weight on my own. I even considered (several times) the stomach removal surgery (I know they call it something else, but lets call an apple an apple). So had "exercise in a bottle" been available I probably would have tried it. All I have to say is that the change begins and continues to be the mind first. And it helps SO MUCH having Sparkpeople so I don't feel so alone in my quest for improved health. And Sparkpeople helps me stay focused. This time I gained a toe hold before hopelessness overwhelmed me, and now I have progress to help stay my course. And this time I am losing weight healthier, watching carefully that I have ENOUGH fuel to function. Report
Wouldn't it be interesting if every problem we had including obesity was solved with a pill? Lets see......I'm a size 12 and today I want to be a tiny size 5, take a pill and for the day........I usually run a mile a day, but it's raining today so I'll take this pill and I won't have to get wet........today I want blue eyes instead of brown, so I'll take this pill and........justs just a silly as it sounds. We gain what we work for, there are miracles or "quick fixes" in a bottle. I once thought there was. I ordered some "miracle pill" over the internet that promised to speed up my motabolism and help me burn fat. That pill send me to the emergency room in am ambulance with my 3rd heart attack. I learned the hard way.....Please don't follow that example.............. Report
We always are looking for the easier, quick fix but they just don't work. Even if they did develop something to make you thin you still won't necessarily be healthy. We have all seen pictures of starving people, they are thin but there is no supporting muscle mass to make them look healthy. Would I like a pill to help blast away the fat? Sure but I still enjoy exercising and working out to make me feel better and gain strength and flexability. Report
Swallowing a pill hardly contributes to the sense of self-worth you achieve by taking care of yourself through eating healthier and exercising.

The greater the challenge, the sweeter the success.

I say, the right foods at the right time in the right amounts with the right exercise. I have heard this from more than one reliable source, and I plan on living it. Report
If you are heavy and use exercise in a bottle, how will it tone your muscle? It won't make you healthier but probably keep you the way you were. We need the exercise to give us energy and get up and go. The pill would probably give you set down and sleep. Why do we always try to change things that will make us lose without the benefits of getting there? We have become a nation of short cuts and time savers. Instead of doing, we have become talkers, t.v. watchers , video game players, etc. A certain amount doesn't hurt but when you spend hours of sitting and not doing, it turns into fat and is unhealthy. I am not saying , I am an exercise machine because I am one of those t.v. watchers who is trying to do more. When I do exercise and get going , I have much more energy, so, if I took those pills and just sat, I would be doing my body harm. Report
I believe that obesity is a recessive gene. My dad and mom always fought a weight battle, and my sisters and I also do.
But they fought well and never taught us how to.
Would I have used "exercise in a bottle"...naw I love hating the 3 time a week hour at the gym.. I feel as if I have acomplished something in spite of myself, and that kind of victory is always sweet. Report
This is interesting and thought provoking. We have been given a lot of "fake" foods. But when we look back in history, it was the people that lived off the land and had to work hard at it, that were fitter. I'm sure there were illnesses that were not as clearly identified as they are today. But putting something in our bodies that our bodies were not designed to digest, is asking for problems. Report
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about weight loss and he said, you know they (researchers) have found out that family genes may be cause of weight gain and why some people can't seem to lose weight. The family genes, I could get with b/c I could look at my family, and even how they gain weight and tell I am prone for it. But the not losing weight b/c of genes, that sounds like a cop out. I was and still am on the kick of not using my family as an excuse. I mean obesity unfortunately run in some parts of my family, but I can't start thinking I can't lose in watching what I eat and exercising b/c of someone in my family who isn't watching what I eat and exercising.
I would really like to find out (other than a overload of carbs and fat) as to what food triggered my weight gain and what foods (other than cutting back) it will take to lose the weight, in a scientific/genetic sense. But would I eat regenerated food to accomplish that. No, there has to be a plausable. And the exercise pill, I would never try, b/c that just sounds risky. It sound like it will exercise your internal organs only, and overexercising that is not what I want. Report
My girlfriend actually bought "Exercise in a Bottle" because her husband kept commenting on it when it was advertised on TV :-) It has a money back guarantee so they tried it and returned it and got their money back. I laughed at her when she bought it but it is nice to literally know someone who tried it and remember that example for other things. Sometimes there are so many products out there you "know" are worthless, even dangerous but sometimes something in your still wonders.

Now with engineered food, it's getting harder to know what to believe, some of their claims seem like "magic". But whenever I get to wondering, I focus in the ridiculousness of the ads/claims ("You'd have to eat 42 bowls of THAT cereal. . .") and realize the premises don't make sense! We're not "built" to take pills primarily or need "extra" help to function correctly. We can't be new and improved models because we're not "things" and are much more complicated than all the scientists and doctors working together could ever know, much less one someone thinking they have invented or found a magic bullet in the rainforests of the deepest darkest snows of Antarctica! Report
I worked at the Vitamin Shoppe for over a year, and it was disgusting to me how many people wanted to buy a "gym in a bottle." People wanted a magical pill that they could take to lose weight, but when I told them diet pills were going to be a waste of money unless they were going to change their diet and work out they were pretty upset with me! I think that an "exercise pill" will be amazingly popular when/if it is developed. However, even if obesity in some people is related to a genetic component, proper diet and exercise will still prevent obesity! I say this because in every genetic disorder (with the exception of a select few, such as Huntington's) the presence of certain genes does not determine a particular outcome. It simply predisposes one to that outcome eventually, especially if paired with certain environmental risk factors (such as poor diet and lack of exercise in this case). So, if we could just learn how to fuel our bodies with proper nutrition as children and develop healthy lifestyles, these extreme, unnatural "exercise pills" and modified, processed meals wouldn't be necessary. Report
No thanks! Everything we put in our body comes with a cost. I'll do it the old fashion way, exercise and good healthy food. Report
Another reason I would not take supplements, etc to help me lose weight is because every man made medicine has a side effect. The bigger the problem that is supposed to be solved, the worse the side effect. No thanks. I rather walk every day before I took a pill that would eventually kill me (I know I'm being extreme, but we all know it has happened). Report
I lost 82lbs the old-fashioned way, from exercise & gaining better eating habits. I have NEVER taken any type of pill, liquid, etc. to help me lose weight. I relied on God only. I love it when people ask me what supplement I used or if I had surgery just so I can tell them, "Nope. All I did was exercise & watched what I ate." Report
I've tried these 'miracles' in a bottle (when I was actually small!) and it brought me to over 300 lbs..There are NO miracles..we all know that! Report
Getting moving and pushing myself gives me so much (stress relief, feeling like I accomplished something just for me) that I dont see how a pill could ever replace that.... Report
Quoting from Coach Dean's article:"...there’s a lot more at stake here than just making it easier to lose weight and avoid health problems. There are lots of big questions here about the effects of the individual decisions we make on the society around us, about individual freedom and responsibility, and about how we manage science and technology so that we control it and it doesn’t control us. And no simple or easy answers."

I guess it depends on how you define 'benefit'--if the ONLY benefit of exercise were to lose weight, then, sure, why not? I mean, it doesn't really MATTER does it that some people simply eat much more food than their bodies can cope with? I am NOT talking about people with bodies that don't work right here--I am referring to people whose 'normal' portion at one meal is enough food to feed a family in Africa for two days. But, we can afford it, so who cares, right?

Some medicines solve real problems; others, unfortunately, only address symptoms. I have a naturally slow metabolism; if there were a pill to boost that, I might take it because it would make me more 'normal.' But right now, slow metabolism IS normal--for me, and, like my brown eyes, that's who I am, and I live with it (without recourse to colored contact lenses, for instance). How I cope with my metabolism, on a day-by-day basis, depends on my choices. I don't always make good ones (or I wouldn't rely on Spark for such interesting and stimulating discussions to keep me motivated) but I'd rather they be MY choices and not some pill's. I have enough trouble with the idea of trying to be statistically normal as it is, rather than being normal for me--which is, after all, the only normal that seems to matter in the end. Report
I'm with Luna! First, we're talking hypothetically, because there probably will never be a "miracle pill" that doesn't have side effects, and works for everyone. But if one was developed, yes, I think it would definitely have it's place in the world for a good number of people. Pretty much everyone is on this website because we're overweight and have been struggling with that. Why get high and mighty about how we've found the answer and expect everyone else to be able to handle this through healthy eating & exercise, when maybe it took US a lifetime to get here? When you read people's sparkpages, you see that a lot of people are here because they've already developed diseases & syndromes caused by or worsened by weight gain & inactivity -- why wouldn't it be okay for people to completely avoid these problems by medical intervention? Yes, it's great to feel the benefits of hard work and commitment, blah, blah, blah, but realistically, it's difficult to commit to 100% of the time. We ALL wouldn't be here otherwise. And when did medicine become bad? How many of you are taking supplements and thinking that because it says "all natural" or "herbal" that these don't count as medications -- chemicals (natural or not) that you are putting in your body in order to achieve a certain outcome? Report
Thank you, I will pass this on I would rather exercise myself Report
I'm really surprised at the comments here. Basically we're talking about a body function that works poorly or not at all in some people, and the potential of a pill which can normalize that function. And yet people are reacting as though it's a morally repugnant option to do so, that "toughing it out" through exercise is the morally superior route.

I relate it to diabetes--the diabetic's body does not produce sufficient amounts of a substance to regulate blood sugar. There are medications that help the body be able to do what it should. Do we look down our noses at diabetics who take these medications? Even though there are some diabetics who have improved to the point of no longer needing the meds? No, of course not. If you need medication to help your body act the way a "normal" body does, you take the medication (if you want to and can tolerate the side effects). No judgment, no moralizing, no allegations of weakness or laziness.

That's what bothers me about the comments, the judgments and suggestions that taking a pill to combat obesity smacks of laziness. Report
The so-called exercise pill that's being discussed here is, I think, the one that has been found to increase muscle endurance in mice. The researchers involved in that project are trying to help people who cannot exercise (and they recognized the possibility of abuse, and even provided a means to identify the use of the pill to the org that checks for drug misuse in athletes.) As best I could tell, this approach would not replace exercise benefits such as cardiovascular health, bone density improvements, etc; it would just let users work out longer through better muscle endurance (that's what it did for the mice). I don't think I'd want to take it myself; really, why rely on a supplement when you can have the real thing? Report
The temptation I feel to try any of these things is always outweighed by my fear of side effects, and the realization of what could happen when I stop the medication. Like rapid weight gain, and possibly ending up bigger than before. In my early twenties, I tried a liquid and energy pill diet that was supposed to be for the obese. It was amazing, at first... I lost 20 lbs and looked ripped in 2 weeks. But the shakes I got from it were getting old and I was going to get too thin if I stayed on it, so of course I stopped and then I gained 30lbs and looked horrible and felt horrible. I would never do it again. Valuable lesson learned. Report
A pill would not work for me either. Even if it had absolutely no adverse effects I wouldn't bother with it. I work out six days each week (five of those days during my lunch hour) and it's like a mini vacation in the middle of the day. I enjoy challenging my body and appreciate every fitness goal I reach because I earned it. Report
I exercise to get away from it all and to get outside and to just *do* something different. A pill or special food couldn't do that for me. Report
the only thing that concerns me about some of the posts below mine is this why would anyone need a pill to " Jump Start " their diet , now I'm not saying that it couldn't be a breakthrough for the severly obese of the world , it just makes me sad , before joining SP I seriously contemplated having a Gastric bypass , and then I found Sparkpeople , I've lost 30 pounds in a month and a half ? ( I wasn't doing anything unhealthy just what SP reccomended ) If that isn't a "jump start " I don't know what is.
None of us gained this weight overnight , so why do we expect to lose it that fast ?
Need some help write " Get your fat butt out of bed exercise , eat right , and change your life " on a piece of posterboard and hang it on the wall in front of your bed where you can see it . Diets are for sissies , it takes a real strong individual to change their life !! JMO Blondecrane Report
People will sell you anything, if they think it wii make them a Dollar, Work or not they do not care. Report
LOL when i was little i remember my dad drinking "Jogging In a Jug" a then 'revolutionary' weight loss miracle that he picked up on the road (he's an over the road driver) that we later found out was mostly apple cider vinegar. Report
Even though getting up and out to exercise is difficult some days, once I'm out there I think "See, this isn't so bad. Aren't you glad you're out here?"

While I would love to lose more weight, I like the accomplished feeling of doing it myself and *learning* how to eat. I often kid that eating is one of my hobbies, but it really is. Food is an adventure and I value good tasting food, even if it might not be that good for me, and eating is something I often look forward to, especially if it's my mom's cooking.

Having processed food, however balanced and perfect for me, does not sound appealing at all. Neither does exercise in a pill. How the heck does that work? It seems against everything in nature.

Like another poster said, heavy Eastern European stock has built me like a bull; strong but big. Unfortunatly, a couple years lacking in fruitful and faithful exercise had caught up with me. Now I'm back at it so I can enjoy eating again. Report
We are bombarded with pharmaceuticals and OTC quick-fixes every day that promise us great bodies and quick weight loss - but the fine print always seems to have this statement about how the product will only work 'with a balanced diet and exercise program'. Well, how about that! And, I know I have the obseity gene - it doesn't take a DNA sample for me to know that I have the same stalwart eastern European thighs my mother and grandmother had. Lets just say on my most sevlte day of my life they were still full and muscular and what our society (at least in the US) would consider larger than they should be. Who wants Barbie legs anyway. They are part of my heritage. All I am saying is - I think most folks know if overweight runs in their family. I do think the pill might be a good thing for folks who have limited mobility for one reason or another. Report
All this genetic research stuff really creeps me out. I'm a believer in trying your best to do it the natural way. Report
I wouldn't mind a "safe" pill that would help, but, I wouldn't want the pill to be the be all and end all...the quick fix solution that is really nothing more than a band-aid. If you don't have to work for something, how much is it really going to be worth to you? Report
I think the last two posters made some good points. "Exercise" is a concept that probably wouldn't even exist if it weren't for the fact that our culture has become so sedentary that we need to do something "special" in order to get enough physical activity to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight. I don't know why using a pill that gives you those benefits should be seen as morally or practically inferior to using an exercise machine or video to do the same thing, on a personal level.

But there are other levels involved here.

In my opinion, the most important issue might be how the fact that we *can* do something, thanks to technology and science, often leads to doing it without much thought about whether it's a good thing to do. Inevitably, this approach ends up meaning that something else besides our basic values and our shared social and political goals ends up being the driving force behind science, technology, and product development. Usually that "something else" boils down to whether a given thing can be produced and sold at a profit.

I've got nothing against the profit motive in itself. But it's not enough to guarantee that everyone gets treated fairly and equally, or that important concerns that may not be profitable and important questions that science and technology can't answer are also taken into account. That takes the kind of public education and debate that isn't limited to the boardrooms of corporations and laboratories.

It could turn out that science can come up with an exercise pill that actually works, or genetically modified foods that almost guarantee a healthy, balanced diet. But it could also turn out that the unintended consequences of these products cause even worse problems. And it probably would turn out that these products have to be modified for each individual according to certain genetic characteristics they have. If so, there wouldn't be much incentive to produce the products for people whose genetic characteristics put them in a very small group--or the cost of providing the pill for these people would be so high that very few could afford it. And then there's the question of whether the time and money invested in developing such a pill for anyone is the best social use of those resources. Would we all be better of if that time and talent and money was devoted to some other project?

If you look at what's happened to the medical establishment in the USA over the last 50 years, you can see what happens when the guiding philosophy is "if something can be done, it should be, as long as someone will pay for it." We now have some incredibly sophisticated hospitals and medical technologies with the ability to prolong life almost indefinitely--especially if you don't count being conscious or functional or comfortable in your definition of "being alive." But we can't deliver all those services to people who don't have tons of money to spend on medical care, and we don't have enough money in the public coffers to spend on health education, services for lower-income citizens, or many other important concerns. Is that really the situation we want to be in?

It looks to me like the science of genomics is headed in the same basic direction at this point. The only thing that will prevent the mistakes of the past from happening again is for all of us to take some responsibility for looking at the bigger picture, and thinking, talking, and acting with that just as much in mind as our own personal situations. Report
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