The FDA: Lapdogs for the Lap-band

by Denis Faye | January 17, 2011

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching in the new year, trying to bring more tranquility to my tumultuous psyche. It seemed to be working for a while. Thanks for surfing and meditation, I had some serious Zen going and I was sleeping better – but it was taking its toll on the The Real Fitness Nerd blog. You can’t write angry when your aura has gone all blue. It just feels false.

Fortunately, this article in the Los Angeles Times about pharmaceutical company Allergan has put an abrupt halt to those good vibrations. After learning about their efforts to lower the minimum weight required for their freakish, digestive system-choking Lap-Bands, I vomited rage-filled bile all over my Sunday paper. Hooray! I’m back!

In you’re not familiar with Allergan, they also make Botox, Natrelle breast implants, and Latisse eyelash lengtheners. In other words, if Larry Flynt had gone into pharmaceuticals, he would have founded this company. Despite a projected $4.8 billion revenue last year, the company is seeking to open up their Lap-Band customer base. And everyone’s favorite corporate lapdog, the FDA, seems more than happy to oblige.

Allergan received some encouraging news in December when an FDA advisory panel voted 8 to 2 to recommend that the weight requirement be lowered. Under the current guidelines, a person who is 5 feet 10 inches without a serious health issue would need to weigh 278 pounds or more to qualify. That requirement would drop to 243 pounds under the relaxed rules that Allergan is seeking. For people with conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure, the new threshold would be 209 pounds, down from 243 pounds.

5’10” and 209 pounds? Are you shitting me? That’s not obese; that’s lazy! I’m opposed to weight loss surgery, but I’m willing to concede that if you’re hundreds of pounds overweight and you’ve completely lost control, this highly risky surgery might seem like a solution. But at 5’10” and 209? Instead of reworking your entire digestive system, you just need to get off the couch, you lethargic bastard. And while you’re at it, stop eating Twinkies.

The point of lap-bands is to make you eat less by shrinking your stomach. But if your BMI floats around 30 and you have diabetes and/or high blood pressure, odds are that your excessive eating isn’t the primary problem; it’s that you’re making really bad choices. If you didn’t have the know-how or willpower to eat right before, how is a rubber band around your gut going to fix things? Eating smaller amounts of junk food isn’t a great improvement. Lap-bands get you down to a size where you can make positive changes to your lifestyle. Guess what, Bubba? You’re already there.

And here’s the kicker:

Many Lap-Band patients in Europe had severe complications over time, including band erosion, slippage or leakage, according to a study published in the medical journal Obesity Surgery. The procedure has been performed overseas for 17 years for medical purposes. It received FDA approval in 2001.

“With a nearly 40% five-year failure rate … [banding] should no longer be considered as the procedure of choice for obesity,” said the report.

It doesn’t even work!

I’m all for freedom of choice, but I draw the line with needless, life-threatening medical procedures. I’m completely stupefied that the FDA, the same agency that recently deemed caffeinated alcoholic drinks too dangerous to be legal, is about to open up the customer pool for an unproven procedure with side-effects including infection, dehydration, vomiting or pain that can present themselves years afterwards.

30 minutes on the treadmill, 5-days a week and 5-6 servings of fruit and veg is all it would take – with zero side-effects. But I suppose that’s a lot less fun than asphyxiating your esophagus.

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5 thoughts on “The FDA: Lapdogs for the Lap-band

  1. Anonymous

    Thank goodness Denis is back making us all laugh again, I was worried you had tamed your inner warrior a little too much there. The only thing that really needs asphyxiation are the throats of the FDA…Now pass me one of those bands and let’s take them down one by one with the lap-bands they love so much.

  2. Anonymous

    Incredible, I had no idea that it was like this. I knew that NO surgery should ever be considered for any kind of weight loss except for the most extreme cases. So this is what the FDA has been reduced to… I highly recommend the documentary ‘Killer at Large’. Just the opening will have your jaw to the floor.


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