October 29th, 2010
04:45 PM ET

Fitness digest: Behind the fat-in-soda ads and elusive diet drugs

Diet pills to treat obesity are like unicorns and fairy godmothers - they don't really exist.  The FDA scuttled another weight-loss drug this week.  Here's another myth - a YouTube video went viral warning that drinking soda every day would make you gain 10 pounds.  Viewers got to see a man chugging dollops of fat.   Disgusting? Yes, but was it true?

Here are some of the  interesting, quirky or  bizarre diet-and-fitness items this week.   Tell us your suggestions for interesting stories, posts or websites that caught your eye.

No magic pill for obesity

The FDA rejected Qnexa, an experimental drug for obesity. This came as a double whammy for weight-loss pills because the agency had rejected another diet drug, lorcaserin last week.

Qnexa could help with weight loss, but runs a small risk of heart palpitations and increased heart rate in the clinical trials. It combined phentermine, which was half of Fen-Phen (if it sounds familiar, it's because that was the diet drug pulled from the market in the 1990s after some users developed heart problems) and topiramate, an anti-seizure medication.

Are diet pills worth the side effect risks?  Weigh in.

Soda wars bubbled in NY health department

The claim was that drinking a can of soda a day “can make you 10 pounds fatter a year.” You may remember the campaign from this barf-inducing YouTube video.

New York health department officials debated whether that claim was accurate, according to the New York Times.  City officials wanted the campaign to have a “major gross-out factor,” despite internal doubts about scientific accuracy, writes the Times.

Madonna starts a gym

The seemingly fat-free 52-year-old plans to open 10 locations of her own line of gyms called Hard Candy Fitness.  She has teamed up with Mark Mastrov, the mastermind behind 24 Hour Fitness.

The ultra-luxe gyms called "Hard Candy Fitness Center" will be located in Argentina, Brazil, Russia and throughout Asia and Europe.  Besides, Madonna always seemed to have a thing for leotards.

Plus-sized intimacy

A CNN.com writer found herself at the center of a fat debate this week.

After CNN's Lisa France wrote a story about plus-sized plotlines and societal discomfort watching two overweight actors get intimate in TV shows, the theme was picked up by a blogger for Marie Clare.

That writer, Maura Kelly wrote that she would be "grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other. To be brutally honest in real life I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room."  Kelly later apologized for the post and said she had survived anorexia.

“I think overweight people are the last group people think it's OK to make fun of," France said.  "If you laugh at them because they're African-American or disabled, people get up in arms. But if you laugh at somebody because they're fat, come on, fat people are funny.”

Read more about the heavy debate.

The matter seems far from over, as a group ticked off with Marie Claire planned a rally outside the Hearst Building on Friday.  Their motto: “Love has no weight limit!”

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Valerie

    Ok, that picture is just disgusting.

    October 29, 2010 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • runswithbeer

      That picture is right on the money. I recently found out I am a diabetic. Main cause CARBS. My eating Excess carbs made me fat. 296 lbs worth. I quit MOST carbs. Started eating a sensible food plan 1800-2000 calories. 20-30 minutes on the exercise bike everyday which I moved right next to my computer at home. Losing 2-3 lbs a week. At 260 now BP now normal, Blood sugar normal. I don't eat anything after dinner as that was what was killing me. I'm going to 180. I'm not dying a fat man.

      November 1, 2010 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    Welbutrin and ReVia help with weight loss. They should be used in conjunction with adapting new positive health behaviors as the combination will help you to reinforce your new positive behaviors. Both of these drugs have a long record of being safe with few side effects. They typically are not prescribed for weight loss but they do indeed work.

    October 29, 2010 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Janet

    The drug makers and diabetes drug makers take in 10 billion$$$$ every year with no cure!!

    Food Chemicals are the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis NOT SODA! SEE HERE http://spirithappy.wordpress.com

    The FDA and Drug makers know this and are laughing to the Billionaire$$$ bank!

    The food chemicals break the gut(insulin) and this is the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis

    A filmmaker has been reversing diabetes and Obesity in now 10 countries and the drug makers do not promote the story

    October 29, 2010 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ruth

      Yeah, because there's no chemicals in soda, right?

      November 1, 2010 at 10:15 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Its not one or the other, its both. The chemicals and the sugar both contribute in different ways.

      November 1, 2010 at 12:16 | Report abuse |
  4. Lola

    Glad the FDA rejected Qnexa. We know the risk of phenteremine, but I took topiramate for migraines and had all kinds of side effects with the drug. I did lose lots of weight on it, but the pounds didn't stay off. Not, not worth it. The stuff messes with your neural system. Follow a diet...don't take a pill.

    October 29, 2010 at 18:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Beckie

      Please don't mislead people about Topiramate. While I agree with your comments about not taking a pill for dieting, Topiramate saved me from severe migraines and has been my lifesaver from them for 12 years with ZERO side effects. Everyone is different. I'm sorry it didn't work for you, but it has helped many others.

      October 29, 2010 at 19:35 | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Fen-phen was pulled because of the fenfluramine, NOT the phentermine. Irresponsible of the article to even make the link. This is like saying percocet is addictive because of the acetaminophen in it.

      November 1, 2010 at 10:05 | Report abuse |
  5. Cole

    There needs to be more studies on the psychology of all this. Everyone knows that exercise and eating in moderation is guaranteed to get you healthy, yet... It's mind boggling.

    The NY health department – Doing something that equates to nothing instead of anything that actually helps. What's next? Going to ban all the bakeries and pastry shops in New York? You can make the 10 lbs claim for every drink except water and milk (Milk excluded since it's the only calorie drink that's ultra-healthy for you, thanks to it being loaded with protein and calcium). Where's all the hate for vitamin water, gatorade, fruit juices (Has more fructose than HFCS), alcohol, and coffee (cream and sugar vehicles) products?

    It's really extreme to be "grossed out" just watching others (says more about the viewer, no?). Sure, I react too, but it's more because of disappointment (Do respect your body more) and these days it's more often towards someone that's nothing but skin and bones.

    October 29, 2010 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • rbnlegend

      Exercise and eating a healthy diet are certainly a good idea, but they are not at all guaranteed to result in weight loss. For people who are substantially overweight, diet and exercise has an over 75% failure rate. If you need to lose 5 pounds, diet and exercise is the answer. If you need to lose 50 pounds, you need to find the underlying health problem that is making you overweight, treat that, and then improve your diet accordingly and exercise more. There is a reason diet books, pills, exercise programs and so on are such big business. If "eat less, exercise more" actually worked, everyone would be thin.

      November 1, 2010 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I never understand posts like this. You argue that because they didnt include every single known unhealthy item in the world, somehow their campaign is useless.

      rbnlegend: what?? i think you are referring to failure as the people failing to continue their diet. Not that the diet itself actually fails.

      November 1, 2010 at 12:25 | Report abuse |
    • JC-VA

      rbnlegend, I don't agree with you. I lost 60 + Lbs when I was in my 20's and I'm 36 today and I still have the lbs off. It took determination from my part, lots of exercise and a good a healthy diet. Yes I had days I eat all wrong because of stress and all that, but I try again the next day until I succeeded. So why can anyone else do it.? Because we are too lazy to get off the couch and start moving. My mother in law is getting fat by the day and when you tell her just to walk around the corner for a couple of minutes a day, she comes up with a big list full of excuses on why she can’t do it.. It’s all in your mind, believe me anyone can do whatever they put their mind into…

      November 1, 2010 at 12:43 | Report abuse |
    • JC-VA

      rbnlegend, also, all i get from your post is, you are fat and haven't had any luck with diets... it not about dits, it is about a healthy lifestyle.... to my processed food and man made food are not good for your.. well they taste delicious but at the end they are not good for your health..

      November 1, 2010 at 12:53 | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      Eat less and exercise more sounds like a simple plan, but is actually a LOT tougher to follow than you think. I lost 50 lbs. by doing just that and it was very effective, but not even close to being simple. It was a lot of work and took a lot of trial and error. And the only workouts that really did the trick are HIIT, and even healthy in-shape people struggle with workouts like those. Just watch the Biggest Loser. That is the typical kind of workout they do and IT IS HARD!!! And it takes a lot of educating yourself on portion control as well. People eat too much and many seriously obese people are fat precisely for that reason. Thyroid conditions or other medical reasons are actually not that common.

      November 1, 2010 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
  6. Rob

    Clearly the fat-in-sodas ad made a dubious claim, but at least it has the right idea. The amount of calories consumed from sugar sweetened drinks by kids as well as adults is shocking in a lot of cases. For many people, a decent portion of their entire day's energy comes from sugary liquids. Any effort to stop that habit has my support. A related issue is the demonization of artificial sweeteners in the media and especially from fringe "health" groups. The fact is that almost all of the artificial sweeteners we have commercially are safe. Even some that have been banned in the past and continue to be banned in the US, like cyclamates, are used throughout the rest of the world without issue. The hysteria over artificial sweeteners drives people who need badly to cut down on sugar intake to have few alternatives but just plain old discipline. For some people, that's just not going to cut it, unfortunately. So, for the record, don't be scared of artificial sweeteners. They are NOT going to hurt you and they offer a real path to better health for a lot of people.

    On the subject of weight loss pills, the sad fact is that while it would be nice to control the complex system of resource utilization within the body with a single pill, it's unlikely to happen any time soon. The answer really is in proper nutrition and exercise for the vast majority of the population. Fortunately, with experienced guidance the process of fat loss doesn't have to be uncomfortable and frustrating. People often expect their doctors to have the answers and the fact is that they aren't trained very well in applied nutrition. Find a real expert who has experience helping people with your specific problems. Some nutritionists know their stuff and others just regurgitate bad information from 30 years ago. Look for answers in the right places and you can find some extremely helpful people. Rational, effective nutrition for fat loss and long-term health: http://www.NutritionPerfected.com

    October 29, 2010 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Belinda

    I started back cycling last year & lost 25 lbs. It can be as simple as using a bicycle to commute whenever weather allows instead of a car. Most cities have mapped out bike routes now & bicycle lanes.

    I'm fit, feel better than I've felt in years, and I find that being physically active tends to cause me to crave healthier foods, so I'm eating healthier too. What I'm not doing, however, is depriving myself & dieting. I haven't needed to! I id this after spending ten years worried that overexertion might be too much for my kidneys, after recovering from illness that had at the time been deemed terminal. Now I'm riding in 120 mile events in the Rocky Mountains & riding to the top of the highest paved road in N. America on a regular basis!

    October 30, 2010 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sarah

    "If you laugh at them because they're African-American or disabled, people get up in arms. But if you laugh at somebody because they're fat, come on, fat people are funny.”

    Yeah, it's funny. Until you realize that it's often a self-reinforcing cycle (contrary to belief, being picked on and abused does not make a fat person want to lose weight, it makes them apathetic and destroys the self-esteem they need to do it) and people then think it's perfectly okay to bully or ridicule people because they are obese - or even just a little chunky.

    People need to grow the hell up.

    October 31, 2010 at 10:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gadzilla

      Amen, Sarah. I have been overweight most of my life, with some time spent being thin when I starved myself to achieve weight loss. But I have felt the disgust and consternation of thin strangers who have no idea what it is like to struggle with weight and self-esteem issues. People think they have the right to say anything at all to overweight strangers, and us overweight folk are supposed to publicly die of embarassment for their sick pleasure. Well, I've been through it all of my life, and I don't get embarassed anymore. I in turn cut them down to size, if belittled publicly because of my weight. I don't have to take that crap, especially not from strangers out in public. I have just as much right to exist as anyone else. So, if someone thinks I am fat and proceed to tell me that, I will in turn voice my considerable disgust for imbeciles who don't know enough to keep the nasty thoughts in their head like a mature adult. Some people just don't know how to behave in public.

      November 1, 2010 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
  9. All

    We live in such a politically correct society-if you state your opinion outloud you are all of a sudden a bad person. The truth is we all have biases towards ppl-some of us choose not to state our opinions and some do-just because one person likes to state their opinion does not make their believes and/or opinions wrong. Is it appropriate? Probably not-but it is what it is. I find it funny that the people who are upset over the comments she made about being fat are not bashing the skinny girls. If you want to bash other groups then don't bash the woman's opion on fat ppl.

    October 31, 2010 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. HB

    I've run the gammut of eating disorders since I was 15 years old – anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive overeating. For me they are all different sides of the same coin...yet only two out of the three elicit sympathy and courses of treatment including prescription drugs. Being overweight (for me) has the same causes but just makes people critical and mean. Yes, I am responsible for my own behavior and myself, but I need help in this area of my life. I need help when I'm too thin, when I'm throwing up AND when I'm compulsively overeating. Please stop judging and HELP other people.

    October 31, 2010 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      Sure, but some of us don't have the time to be constantly watching over every other adult. Get some independence, jeebus, grow up.

      November 1, 2010 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
    • gadzilla

      Joe, maybe this person means "help someone" as in don't judge them, publicly or other wise, and proceed to cut them down for their perceived failings. Making a person feel bad about themself never helps, shame is destructive. To use the excuse that shaming someone makes them change their habits and lose weight or change in another way makes no sense. It just makes that person hate themselves more, and makes things worse. People only shame others to make themself feel more powerful over another, and it's just plain mean. There's no help in that at all. Prejudice blinds us to individuals, and is never good.

      November 1, 2010 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
  11. Mike G.

    This is clearly Obama's fault. The Dems will find out tomorrow that we are sick of this garbage!

    November 1, 2010 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. rbnlegend

    If you think spamming your website all over comment boards is a good idea, you aren't as smart as you think you are.

    November 1, 2010 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Abbyka

    It's not just the fat in soda that makes you gain weight, it's the calories. You probably shouldn't drink calorie fueled drinks period if you are dieting. Water, water, water. As boring as it is, it's the only thing that will help with weight loss. Caffeinne, though, is highly addictive so it's hard to quit. My mom has tried to quit a billion times over the years. I've quit a few times only to hope back on it after a few months to a year. This past time I started drinking caffeine again is because diet soda's aspartame causes diarrhea. I won't go any further than that because it's already TMI lmao. I used to get the caffeine free stuff but when I stopped drinking diet my husband whines if I get a separate case of soda that IS caffeine free because he drinks regular and so should I in his opinion.

    November 1, 2010 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Joe

    No magic pill for Obesity: because thats the answer right? a magic pill. how oh how are we supposed to get rid of obesity without some form of PILL?

    Soda equals 10 pounds a year. DUH. Everyone who actually takes time to learn about health knows this. Sugar goes STRAIGHT to the fat roll. The most successful campaign ever was the "fat free" campaign of sugar-laden foods.

    Fat Intimacy: not really seeing the issue, one way or the other. I wouldnt want to watch it, so I don't. Should I apologize now for my preferences? No.

    November 1, 2010 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gadzilla

      Joe, I wouldn't want to watch fat intimacy either, and we ARE fat, mr gad and I. But, we enjoy each other daily. Sometimes twice daily. But we like our entertainment and our porn with skinny people too, go figure. No apologies here, either. It's a cultural thing. More and more obesity in America because of our nutrition and exercise choices, but more and more disgust with people who don't look like the tiny percentage of beautiful people in the media. Our society is schizophrenic.

      November 1, 2010 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
  15. Bear

    "If you laugh at them because they're African-American or disabled, people get up in arms. But if you laugh at somebody because they're fat, come on, fat people are funny.”

    Fat is, 9 times out of 10, a choice. Being black or disabled is something that happens to you. Being fat is something you do to yourself.

    And sure, there's always someone insisting they know a friends cousin's uncle who had a bizarre medical issue that caused them to be fat. Those are extremely rare cases.

    If you cut out high-calorie drinks like soda and juice, cut out fried foods and dairy (milk and cheese mainly, yogurt is probably OK), and go for a walk once a day, that's enough for most people to lose weight.

    November 1, 2010 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bear

      To add to that – the other long-time most-popular insult is to call someone "stupid". Or "idiot", "retard", and so on.

      Calling someone who is actually retarded is considered tasteless and mean. Those insults are really for calling a smart person stupid – for instance when they make a mistake or a bad decision. This is the ultimate insult for the smartest species on earth. The key is that it's an insult targeted at a person's choices or actions, not something they were born with.

      November 1, 2010 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
    • Totality

      Being fat is not really a choice. In most cases people do NOT want to be fat. Yes, some people are fat because they overeat, eat only junk or never exercise. But with the vast majority it's a lot more complicated. Think about it. You and your friends can eat the exact same diet and exercise exactly the same way, but you will always be different sizes. That's because genetics play a large part in how your body reacts to food and exercise.

      Today almost everyone eats pretty badly. Aside from the "health nuts", very few people don't go out for pizza sometimes, run through McDonald's when they are late for work, or have a bag of chips and a beer or soda on game nights. Yet some of the population is thin and some is fat.

      Fat people are not acting any differently than thin people in most cases, but their bodies don't process the food and activity the same way. The reason we are seeing more fat people than we used to is because "normal activity" today has changed from physical work to sitting at a computer in an office. "Normal food" has changed from everything fresh from the local farm or back yard to everything out of cans or bags, frozen and pre-made.

      Can most people buck the habits of "normal" society to lose weight, probably. But those people have it difficult. Not only do they genetically have a harder time losing weight and keeping it off, they have to limit themselves when there aren't a lot of easy options to do so. They have to hold down jobs, support their families, keep up with their kids, keep up with friends – all of the things a thin person does – then ALSO find time to go to the gym or otherwise work out, and find extra money to make sure all their food is fresh and healthy, etc. All, I might add, while facing constant derision and little to no sympathy or support.

      So don't just casually say it's a choice to be fat. It's more like it's a choice to be thin, and some people have to work extremely hard at it.

      November 1, 2010 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • gadzilla

      Everyone thinks everyone else has so much choice and ability to change the things about themselves others don't like or agree with.

      November 1, 2010 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
  16. Totality

    Drinking one soda a day will make you gain ten pounds? That's a nice bit of scare lore, but what does that mean? 10 pounds a day? A month? A year? A lifetime? What size soda will cause this magic ten pounds?

    Blanket statements like that irk me because they don't give you any details.

    If you drink soda, but you count the calories, sodium content, fat and sugar into your daily totals, you are probably not going to automatically gain weight.

    The danger in soda, juices, shakes and other drinks is mostly that your body doesn't register the calories in liquid the way it does in solid foods. So you can drink 250 calories a can and then eat a full meal, because the soda doesn't fill you up. And because of the sodium and sugar, soda doesn't effectively quench thirst, so you drink much more soda then you would water in the same situation.

    But if you keep track of the calories and sugar and view soda as a treat, having one every day isn't that bad. With all things, it's a matter of moderation and knowledge.

    Diet pills I put little stock in. They are supposed to keep you from getting too hungry so you don't over eat. The problem here is that if you're eating three large meals a day plus snacks, your body is trained into that pattern. So while taking away the appetite might help some people if they included it in a long term weight loss plan, nothing is going to miraculously make a person eat less right away. You have to break the pattern of overeating long term by training your body to crave smaller meals of healthier food. Most people buy them expecting instant results. That's just not going to happen.

    November 1, 2010 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      They clearly state it is per year.

      November 1, 2010 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
  17. dom625

    1. Every medication that you take will have potential side effects. Heck, if you take ibuprofen or naproxen for pain, you run the risk of stomach problems. I think the FDA should take another look at the medicines that it is banning simply because of a "small risk" of problems. That's a chance we and our doctors should be able to take if we need to. Some of these drugs may be the only ones that work on certain patients.

    2. Soda makes you fat...if that were true, I'd be the size of a house because I live on Sprite. However, I exercise six times a week (aerobics and weights) and try to limit consumption of other types of junk, so I'm actually a bit underweight for my height. Exercise and proper eating DO work; it's just getting people to develop and stick with a regimen that we need to work on. Starting an exercise program was the hardest thing I've ever done, and sticking with it is extremely tough, but I do it anyway because I know I'm doing something good for my body. That's motivation enough.

    3. I don't enjoy watching *anyone* making out, either on TV or in real life. That's a private moment that should be kept private. And I don't care what you look like in that respect.

    4. No, fat people do not get any sympathy from the general public. However, I don't think anorexics and bulimics should receive any other. Just as the majority of overweight people are responsible for their weight (not genetics, as many would have you believe), so too are these people responsible for themselves. Most of the time, they are starving themselves for attention or because they feel a lack of control in their lives. Hey, if puking up your food makes you happy, go for it. Just don't expect me to feel sorry for you. We all feel out of control at times, but we don't all force ourselves to throw up, now do we?

    November 1, 2010 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Alfonso Moretti

    You can eat or drink whatever you want in moderation. Soda is not the reason America is FAT! Read my post on Bad Soda here: http://www.angrytrainerfitness.com/2010/10/bad-soda/

    November 1, 2010 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
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  20. Improve Concentration

    Finally – FDA rejects something useless

    November 1, 2010 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. checkdent

    Ofcourse they don't work. I've never seen a single man that has benefited from any of these wonder pills. I wonder how can they be on them market, not cause they're not healthy, most of them are fine they just don't work. But, they are a right-out lie and selling them have to be treated as a fraud.

    November 2, 2010 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. JSC22

    Unfortunately health and wellness does not come in a pill. If you make small healthy lifestyle changes you will lose weight if you have weight to lose. Check out this great blog for some easy health tips to get healthier: http://blog.mydiscoverhealth.com/

    November 2, 2010 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Sbueisoan

    Some call Oprah Winfrey, 57, the most influential woman in the world, yet she was born into poverty. Her uber-successful talk show wasn't enough for Winfrey - in 2011

    February 20, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
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    http://posetun.ucoz.ru/news/dieta/1-0-1 – Диета с лечебными свойствами

    March 14, 2011 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
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    March 14, 2011 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
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