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Originally published July 22 2004

Medicare to fund obesity treatments, but which ones really work?

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

With the new decision by Medicare to consider obesity a disease, providers of solutions to obesity will no doubt be lining up to offer treatments. But which treatments will Medicare fund? Which treatments really work for weight loss?

There's no doubt that the increasingly popular surgical procedure known as gastric bypass surgery will be on the list, but that's a shame: it's a barbaric procedure that kills 1% of its recipients right on the operating table and leaves the rest maimed for life, unable to eat normally ever again. Plus, it doesn't make a single person healthier in terms of blood chemistry, fitness level or mental state.

Weight loss drugs will probably be on the approved treatments list, too, but there really are no weight loss drugs that work. If there were, one third of the country wouldn't be obese right now!

What are the real answers to weight loss? It turns out the things that work don't require a large investment of taxpayer dollars. They're simple things, too: education, prevention, nutrition and physical exercise. As a country, if we are going to tackle obesity, we need to stop manufacturing, marketing and selling grocery products that promote disease. These include soft drinks, fried foods, junk foods, processed foods, and any food made with dangerous additives like sodium nitrite or MSG (monosodium glutamate is a major contributor to obesity due to the way it destroys normal endocrine system function). In addition, foods high in refined carbohydrates, added sugars or that contain high-fructose corn syrup need to carry large warning labels stating that they promote obesity.

After that, people need to engage in regular physical exercise. And I'm not talking about just walking 30 minutes a day (although that would be great if everyone did it). I'm suggesting we become a nation of exercise junkies engaged in Pilates, yoga, strength training, cycling, swimming, gymnastics, martial arts or anything else that gets your body moving.

These solutions aren't popular with the general public, however. People have a "fix me" attitude about their obesity. They want someone else to reverse the problems they've caused through their own daily choices to consume disease-promoting foods and avoid exercise. And few are willing to take responsibility for their current state of health. They want their doctors, surgeons or prescription drugs to do the work for them. Sadly, they're now going to be using taxpayer dollars to pay for such treatments, which means that healthy people who choose healthy lifestyles and take responsiblity for their own state of health will now be subsidizing high-cost surgical procedures and obesity treatments for those in society who refuse to take on such responsibilities. There are serious ethical questions in all this, of course. Should taxpayer dollars be used to fund treatments for a "disease" that's really the result of lifestyle choices?

There's bound to be a lot of wasted money in all this, too. Medicare will be funding things that don't work, primarily because modern medicine stands to generate enormous profits from these obesity treatments, regardless of their proven efficacy. Gastric bypass surgery costs $40,000 a pop, and that's big bucks for surgeons and hospitals. Pharmaceuticals are extremely profitable, and extended hospital stays by obese patients generate enormous revenues for hospitals. The obesity "disease" designation by Medicare is essentially a pot of gold for many health services providers. And they know it.

My only hope is that at least some of this money will go to education and prevention efforts rather than the treatment of symptoms or radical surgical procedures that maim patients for life. Obese patients need nutritional counseling. They need fitness coaching. They need people who can help them take control over their own health and get back to making healthy lifestyle choices. They don't need their stomachs ripped out, stapled shut, or tied off to form a tiny pouch. That's ridiculous! They don't need drugs, and they don't need diet pills. What they need is real food, outstanding nutrition and a whole new way to look at controlling their own brain chemistry without using foods as medication.


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