Last night I watched the new episode of True Life [I’m Addicted to Food] on MTV… and my mind was just blown in a very bad way. Alisha, the first woman featured on the show, sees a therapist who put her on DIET PILLS (the Alli Diet) while treating her for a food addiction.
Now, I totally get the logic behind the diet part since she needs to learn how to scale back her consumption as a part of getting control over her addiction… but diet pills? How the fuck is that healthy!? (Here’s a clue: its not. Its not healthy, nor is there a reason why it needs to be a part of her recovery.)
Alli: Health Risks
“In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received reports of serious liver injury in people using orlistat and began a safety review. At this time, no definite association has been established between orlistat and the risk of liver injury. However, if you take Alli be sure to contact your doctor if you experience signs and symptoms, such as weakness or fatigue, fever, jaundice, or brown urine, which could indicate liver injury.”
“Alli is taken with fat-containing meals, up to three times a day. Because of how Alli works, it’s recommended that you eat no more than 15 grams of fat with each meal. Eating greater amounts of fat can cause unwanted effects, such as urgent bowel movements, diarrhea and gas with oily spotting.”
“Alli can help you lose weight, but the weight loss likely won’t be great — perhaps just a few pounds more than you would lose with diet and exercise alone. […] Alli could conceivably result in an average of 3 to 5 pounds lost in a year in addition to the approximately 8 pounds you could expect to lose from diet and exercise alone.”
Source: Mayo Clinic
This directly contrasts with the second woman’s therapist, who tried to send her to Overeaters Anonymous and then eventually got her into an outpatient rehab program where they talked about her emotions and the reasons why she eats from both a mental standpoint and a physical standpoint (how the substances she takes in – mostly glucose – trigger her brain to crave more food.) They also gave this woman a diet plan, but it seemed to be one that focused on getting healthy rather than losing weight (as evidenced by the detailed explanations of why she needed to cut out certain foods and the lack of an unnecessary diet pill.)
Now I know we don’t see the whole picture for either of these women, so I don’t feel comfortable extrapolating more… maybe Alisha got a lot of emotional support as well and I just missed it, but I still wanted to put this up here as just another piece of evidence of America’s obsession with weight-loss above all else. In this scenario we see someone who is supposed to be looking after someone’s physical and mental health put her on a diet geared towards “easy” weight loss (that actually doesn’t work significantly better than a pill-less diet plan) as opposed to delving into the issues related to her food addiction… an addiction that she acknowledges and describes on her own.
Luckily Alisha seems to understand this, and has made it her focus instead of the diet…
“I’m not really on the Alli diet anymore but I take the lessons that the system taught me and continue to apply them to my decisions–any time I need help, it’s always there for me. I don’t keep up on my weight as much as I used to because it just adds stress, but when I have it checked it goes either way: no consistent weight loss or gain, and I’m okay with that. I still want so badly to kick my addiction and that will be my focus. So as long as I’m an addict, that will be the concern–not my weight.”
Even if Alli was a magic pill, and this woman wound up skinny in days (the wrap-up at the end lets us know that she lost two pants sizes!) unless she got mental health support, along with the magic-pill, she’d still be addicted to food and, thus, would still be needing help. The thought that thin = healthy is not foolproof and needs to be challenged in our cultures ASAP because this is what happens when it isn’t.