The Alliance For Natural Health

“Don’t Take Supplements, but Feel Free to Electrocute Your Stomach!”

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Man with stomacha cheThe FDA’s obesity “logic” hurts Americans—and endangers supplements. Action Alert!

On June 17, an FDA advisory panel moved closer to full FDA approval on VBLOC—a new implant designed to curb appetite by electrocuting stomach nerves. The device is implanted under the skin of the chest, and delivers electrical shocks down the two trunks of the vagus nerve (the nerve that controls the digestive system, heart, lungs, and some glands). The jolts stun nerves around the stomach, decreasing hunger pangs and simulating a feeling of fullness.

The panel voted 8-to-1 that the device is safe, 6-to-2 that the device’s benefits outweigh its risk, and 4-to-5 that the device will effectively help patients lose weight (that is, a majority voted that it would not help patients lose weight). The side effects of VBLOC, produced by EnteroMedics, Inc., include pain, heartburn, constipation, nausea, depression, diarrhea, infection, organ or nerve damage, device movement, and device malfunction. Keep in mind that the vagus nerve is one of the body’s most important organs. If it is damaged, the effects will be horrendous for health.

Please also keep this in mind: the committee found that the device’s benefits outweigh all these side effects, yet most of the committee said it doesn’t help consumers lose weight. So what, exactly, are the benefits—besides adding to Big Pharma’s coffers?

Another new tool in the obesity battle, the AspireAssist, is a thin tube that is placed into the stomach through the abdominal wall in a “reversible” procedure. It connects the inside of the stomach directly to a poker-chip sized port on the outside of the abdomen with a valve that can be opened or closed to control the flow of stomach contents. About twenty minutes after eating, the patient is supposed to empty a portion of stomach contents into the toilet after each meal through this tube by connecting a small, handheld device to the external port. Aspiration is intended to remove about a third of the food, leaving sufficient calories for nourishment.

The AspireAssist is currently available in some European countries and, according to Dr. David Williams’s Alternatives Newsletter, appears headed for FDA approval in the US. The AspireAssist will be offered as an alternative to gastric bypass surgery, though more than one critic has called it a high-tech, medically assisted form of bulimia. Why change your food choices or your lifestyle when, like some overfed ancient Roman, you can simply get rid of what you’ve just eaten and then feast some more?

Although we question what the FDA and mainstream medicine consider to be “safe” weight loss tactics, there’s no denying that obesity is an American epidemic: 35.1% of adults are obese, while 69% of adults are overweight. Obesity accounts for 18% of deaths between the ages of 40 and 85, and costs our healthcare system nearly $150 billion dollars a year.

Further, nonalcoholic fatty liver, which is mainly triggered by poor diet resulting in obesity, now occurs in 10% of children and at least 20% of adults. It’s currently the country’s second leading cause of liver transplants, second only to liver failure caused by acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol). By 2025, if nonalcoholic fatty liver continues to increase unabated, 5 million Americans will need new a liver. Currently, just 6,000 liver transplants are conducted per year—there is no way that supply can meet this future demand, and of course transplants introduce a host of risks, since, among other parts of the procedure, the immune system must be suppressed for a long time to control rejection of the foreign organ.

But instead of encouraging lifestyle changes and programs that tackle the causes of America’s weight problem—sedentary lifestyles; the side effects of risky drugs; stress; lack of sleep; chemicals in the environment such as BPA; processed, sugary foods and other poor diet choices; persistent misconceptions about diet (i.e., “a calorie is just a calorie” and “fat is bad”)—the FDA continues to champion drugs and surgery that treat just one symptom: fat.

Being obese is one manifestation among many of a body that is out of balance. Unfortunately, the FDA and mainstream medicine ignore this:

  • The FDA officially classified obesity as a disease in 2000. It is believed to have done this because supplements are not allowed to make disease claims, and big drug companies wanted the treatment field to themselves.
  • In 2008 the Obesity Society officially supported classifying obesity as a disease.
  • In 2013, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates followed suit. While the AMA has no legal authority, it holds tremendous sway over public policy makers, insurance companies, and the public. It seems clear that the AMA is eager to classify obesity as a disease in order to give doctors a larger market base for their lucrative obesity treatments.
  • The European Court of Justice is currently considering whether or not obesity should be classified as a disability.
  • The IRS has ruled that obesity treatments qualify for tax deductions—if you itemize, you can deduct your weight loss program under medical expenses.

For now, supplements are allowed to make weight loss claims that don’t refer to obesity—for example, “Adequate protein intake can help you feel full, which can help you maintain a healthy weight.” However, Big Pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline has already petitioned the FDA to remove weight loss supplements from the market so it can sell its weight loss drugs without competition.

If the FDA were to grant GSK’s petition, weight loss supplements would be banned. At worst, we would lose access to such important weight loss supplements as garcinia cambogia or green tea extract. At best, supplements may remain on the market but the public will be ignorant of their benefits as manufacturers won’t be able to say what conditions the supplements can affect.

Action Alert! Please tell the FDA to reject GSK’s petition and keep weight loss supplements safe!

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  • Anton McInerney

    Encouraging a sick race to sicker practices how condescendingly gracious can an agency get!

  • ACurtis

    Insane! The only way to stop Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is through lifestyle changes and removing toxins from the diet/daily use. None of these invented mechanisms will ever come close to helping people become healthy and stay healthy because they bypass one very important thing: you must get to the root cause in order to overcome the problem.

    And the root cause for the majority of people is the poor Standard American Diet. Tops is man made manufactured food stuffs and all the toxic byproducts (chemicals, pesticides, artificial dyes/flavorings, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, sulfites, MSG, sugar/fat/salt), and all of the man made components put into “foods” to make them taste like food. Eat real, organic, wholesome, local food and bypass processed and fast food. Your body and health will thank you. Your liver will thank you. There are lots of herbs one can take to help the liver detoxify (parsley, cilantro, milk thistle are just a few), beets are THE vege for liver health/liver detoxing, and drinking daily hot lemon water in the morning before starting the day (3 tsp of an organic lemon, squeezed, with hot water, no added sweetener) will go miles above in its cheap and easy liver scrub; extra benefits in that lemon water also helps clean out the gall bladder, pancreas, kidneys, bile duct, and ultimately, also helps the gut.

  • Cynthia Stevenson

    Other than the obvious financial issues why not allow the least invasive methods to be tried first? By taking the conservative approach that says try the least invasive/least complicated method first. The financial issue should not be the defining reason for invasive procedures when a less invasive method has not been given a fair trial.

  • David Ngbea

    FDA does not represent the people. It represents the Pharmaceutical industry. It bis beyond comprehension that they consistently approve drugs and procedures that clearly are injurious to the public. What is most deplorable about this is that their behavior is happening on a continuum with impunity, and no repercussion. .

  • alan johnson

    You have to be kidding? Shocking us is OK but not allowing supplements is just insane. What is wrong here? Lets see an invasive surgery or letting patients take a supplement. I know. I have the answer. It must be more cost effective to do surgery than take an oral supplement. Am I right???????????????????????????????????

  • I think the big drug company’s have way to much power. It should not be left up to them to decided what the public should take or know about. If there drugs were so safe they would not come with a list of side effects that cause more damage than what the drug is soppose to be for.

  • Marie Estep

    Help keep freedom to choose natural aids over pharma chemicals when we choose to do so!

    as with anything we eat, supplement or Rx there is possibility of negative reaction………I CHOOSE to try the supplement with possibly no or few negative reactions! I do not choose except when absolutely necessary the RX that usually includes 8-15 or MORE very serious bad life threatening interactions!

  • Andrew L. Eggers

    It is very simple, reject GSK’s Petetion. If they want to market something for this purpose and they have proof of its tested safety, let the market place determine the outcome.

  • Nathan Knowles

    What know fact for myself, and do for body.

  • Priscilla A Herrington

    I can’t imagine why anyone would be interested in either of these mechanical means to weight loss! I’ve struggled with weight issues most of my life – I love to eat – and so dieting has only helped while I’m dieting – if at all. However, about two years ago I decided to try eliminating gluten – not to lose weight, but because I thought it might help some other health issues I had. So, I was pleasantly surprised after three months to find I could fit into clothes I had previously outgrown. And two years since starting this new lifestyle, I’ve lost 70 pounds! Eating gluten free has meant not eating any processed foods. I had already stopped drinking soda, and eat very little sugar. I don’t feel that I am dieting, and I always feel full. I eat whatever I want, actually, and I find that I want healthier choices – fresh vegetables, grass-fed free-range meats, water, fruits, cheese, eggs. Lifestyle changes, to my way of thinking, are the only safe way to accomplish healthy goals!

    • Peggy Worley

      Priscilla. I had to go gluten free over two years ago because of health issues and all health issues cleared up. I never was very big but now I am 5’7″ and weigh 120. Can’t gain weight for nothing. I am eating fresh foods only and no wheat. barley, or rye and feel great. I am also 65 yrs. old I still eat bread, but only gluten free.

  • Anita Lane

    And just what animals were tested for this unspeakable science?