Monday, August 11, 2008

Exercise in a Pill: Would You Take a New Diet Pill from Geneticists to Kick-Start Your Metabolism?

Remember those genetically-engineered marathon mice we heard about in 2004, the ones that scientists could get to run "twice as fast as normal mice" and who also showed an innate resistance to weight gain? Well, the doctors at the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute have taken the marathon mouse research further and now claim to have created a pill that may make almost any couch potato build muscle like an athlete and burn fat faster too. Would you take this pill?

There's already speculation that they will need to test Olympic and other athletes in the future for the new drug so folks play fair. Yes, I'm talking about "exercise in a pill" and according to this news story, the researchers have created two.

When I heard the story from my daughter, I muttered "Scam! Another diet pill scam" because I've written about the booming diet industry before. In one of those posts I quoted the introduction to another news story: "For decades companies have been selling slim and we've been eating it up," reporter Sharon Alfonsi said. According to her 2006 report, Americans spend about $35 billion on diet products yearly.

Many of those products are bogus and not always scrutinized by the FDA. For instance, many of us who struggle with weight probably have heard the horror stories/rumors about diet pills in the 1920s that unleashed tapeworms in the system. A tape worm would help you keep off pounds, but who wants a potentially deadly parasite in their bodies. (On the other hand, there are women who would risk death to be "thin and in.")

Dieting scams aside, these two new pills from the Howard Hughes researches may be legitimate wonder drugs from the genetics field. You can read more at this link.

I tune out diet pill ads, even the new Alli plan that some people swear by (again too many potential health issues there that I think could be avoided by working without pills). However, the possibility that researchers may have found a pill that will help boost metabolism in a way that helps people overcome the genetics of obesity appeals to me. I hope it's true.

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