Anti-obesity hailed as ‘holy grail’ of weight loss and obesity treatment

Can you believe the headlines? A pill that supposedly helps people lose weight without increasing their risk of heart problems! That’s what the spin doctors are telling us as the supposed benefits of a relatively new anti-obesity drug lorcaserin (trade name Belviq), a selective serotonin 2C receptor agonist that modulates appetite, are sold to the masses worldwide. But what are they they not telling us? Check out the known side effects! Even through the rose tinted spectacles of a potentially manipulated drug industry funded study, participants in the lorcaserin group reduced their weight by only 4.2kgs (9.3lbs) on average over a full year. It will be interesting to see how lorcaserin fares in the long-term given the failures linked to excessive side effects and insufficient benefits with previous appetite regulators such as Orlistat. At ANH-Intl we continue to advocate long-term dietary and lifestyle changes as set out in our Food4Health guidelines and keto-adaptation recommendations as being among the most effective ways to lose and maintain weight loss and improve your overall health. To us, doing it the natural way beats a pharmaceutical quick fix that has great potential to disturb natural appetite regulation and neurotransmitter balance. Neither are we impressed by the limited (at best modest) claims of effectiveness and any user should be very wary of the laundry list of disturbing side-effects. Our advice is: avoid it and make sure any friends or family members who are considering using the drug are made fully aware of the known side effects.

Meat reduction more than a fad

As more people look for ways to reduce their meat intake and environmental impact, veganism has seen a rapid rise in recent years. A new UK report from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) attempts to reassure the meat industry that it is just a fad with only around 2% of the UK population labelling themselves directly as vegan. It seems more likely that it's trying to settle anxiety in an industry that knows faces a tough future given increasing concerns over its sustainability and environmental impact. The report does however recognise that more consumers are adopting a ‘flexitarian’ diet in which people are reducing their meat consumption throughout their weekly meals for health and ethical reasons. Whether or not you choose to eat responsibly sourced, non-factory-farmed meat or fish - everyone can benefit from including a diverse range of sustainably-produced, soil-grown plants in their diets, as recommended in our Food4Health guidelines.

Cervical screening changes in US

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has updated its 2012 recommendations on cervical screening in a new Recommendation Statement. The main change is that women aged 30-65 will be screened every 5 years using the hrHPV test alone as an alternative to the 3 yearly cytology testing. Other recommendations remain as previous. It remains to be seen how effective this type of screening will be at detecting potential, early cancerous changes in women.

Alcohol – friend or foe?

Three new studies have been published this month adding to the confusion around how much (or little) alcohol we should drink. So who should you believe? The first study tells us to keep a distance, whilst the second condones regular moderate drinking to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. The third and final study links heavy drinking and smoking with damage to teenagers' arteries. What we do know is that there is evidence for the health benefits of resveratrol and polyphenols suggesting a glass or two of organic sulphite-free red wine may well be beneficial. Too much can have the opposite when the liver's capacity to detoxify alcohol is overwhelmed. Apart from some evidence of physiological benefits of wine in moderation especially, there are also potential psycho-social benefits, especially if we drink and socialise in groups. To understand more, including about the risk of alcohol dependence, we need to know more about how we metabolise and detoxify alcohol in our liver, as well our genetics (e.g. polymorphisms affecting the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase).

California limits kids meal drinks

Children’s meals in California are set to take a turn for the better as a new bill passed the California Assembly designed to restrict drinks sold as part of children’s meals in restaurants to a choice of water, flavoured water (with no added natural or artificial sweeteners), unflavoured milk or nondairy milk alternative as part of efforts to combat the obesity epidemic. This won’t prevent parents from requesting alternatives such as sugary fizzy drinks, nor will it change the meal composition, however it is a starting point from which to build a better future for children’s diets – starting with its visibility.