The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
Instagram

OTC diet pill is bad idea for an overweight country

Advertisements claim, “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days,” “Eat anything and not gain weight,” and “Never work out again.” The fine print reveals those statements are not FDA approved. Still, each year Americans seeking a slimmer figure spend billions of dollars on weight-loss products promising unrealistic results because they are the only options consumers could get their hands on – until now.

The FDA approved Alli, the first over-the-counter (OTC) diet pill. In a country where people spend billions on unapproved products, will people see the approval as the government’s go-ahead on another quick fix to an ever-increasing problem?

It is no doubt that Americans have a weight problem. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 15 years ago, no states had obesity rates at or above 20 percent; now only four states report obesity rates below 20 percent. On top of that, the first national study of eating disorders conducted by Harvard researchers this year shows that binge eating disorder, characterized by frequent and uncontrollable eating binges, is the most prevalent of all eating disorders and is associated with health risks similar to those of obesity.

In an overweight and lazy nation, quick fixes and convenience trump old-fashioned alternatives. Americans want everything. They want it now, and they want it fast. Fast food. High-speed Internet. Sports cars. Quick weight loss.

Doctors warn that Alli is most effective when used with diet and exercise, but if Americans are not eating well and exercising now, will taking a pill really cause them to hit the salad bar and the gym more often? And with the “ideal” body getting smaller and smaller and eating disorder prevalence nearing 10 percent, will Alli be an easy pill to abuse for consumers to whom a doctor would not recommend a diet product?

For the portion of the country that could benefit from weight-loss help to reduce the increased health risks caused by being overweight, doctors can prescribe weight loss pills, so why make Alli OTC?

Letting anyone purchase the drug will not solve the underlying problem and could create new ones. Americans need to eat a balanced diet, go for a run and leave the pills to the doctors. OTC convenience is not worth the risk of abuse by consumers looking for quick fixes to lose extra pounds that they may or may not have in the first place.

About the writer:

Susan Carmody is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at [email protected].

More to Discover