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The Danger of Curbing Hunger Artificially

Unhealthy eating is a harmful problem in America, and contrary to a very outdated perception, this harm is not limited to those who suffer from obesity[1]. In reality, according to the Directors of Health Promotion and Education, the majority of Americans exhibit unhealthy eating habits, with just over one in four women and only one in five men claiming to eat the minimum five daily servings of vegetables and fruits[i].

In response to this growing wave of American malnutrition, a number of nutrition-based solutions have been proposed. This has been both a positive, an ironically, a negative, development.

This has been positive in light of the simple fact that it has helped increase basic "nutrition IQ". The fact that most urban centers are home to dozens of diet and weight loss centers, and that many malls now have at least one health store has advanced awareness of America's unhealthy eating problem.

So, too, have the numerous television shows and news reports that have covered the popular diets that dominate current weight loss discussions, such as: the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, the Zone Diet, and more. The fact that a vending machine may actually contain a piece of fruit these days is further positive expressions of this growing nutritional awareness.

However, there is a downside as well. This increasing information has created a dizzying health and nutrition marketplace within which some irresponsible products are being offered. Among these products ? and arguably the worst kind -- are those that artificially suppress appetite.

There are two equally important reasons why appetite suppressants are dangerous and irresponsible nutrition ideas.

The first reason is that they delude dieters into thinking that real weight is being lost. For example, an unfortunately popular choice for some dieters is to take diet pills. These pills are often diuretics that promote weight-loss through water loss. As such, while a dieter will feel less hungry and lose weight while taking the diet pills, both of these effects will cease when taking the pills cease. Weight gain will return rapidly, as will appetite[ii].

This leads to the other reason why these appetite suppressant products are irresponsible and harmful. The human body is home to a vastly intelligent network of systems, cells, chemicals, and neurotransmitters. Regardless of one's personal view of evolution of how the human body came to be this way, it is agreed by both creationists, evolutionists, and everyone else that the human body is a remarkable example of comprehensive intelligence.

For example, the human body is able to synthetically produce ? without any conscious help from the owner of that body ? 12 of the 20 amino acids that comprise protein[2]. Or consider the blood, whose plasma carries platelets that enable minor wound blot clotting. Both of these examples reflect a special kind of intelligence that the human body humbly and quietly exhibits throughout life.

When hunger is artificially suppressed it interferes with this intelligence. The body and its intricate network of problem-solving mechanisms become confused. Basically, the body is still hungry, but it does not feel hungry. The body is still craving the basic nutrition it requires to survive: proteins, essential fats, nutrients, vitamins, and calories. Yet because the hunger signal is not being effectively transmitted from these systems to the brain ? due to the appetite suppressant ? the individual dieter is not responding. In the short-term, a dieter may lose some pounds[3]. In the long-term the dieter will suffer from some form of malnutrition.

Clearly, appetite suppression "solutions" are not solutions at all. They are irresponsible and potentially damaging ? even fatal ? biological short cuts that undermine the innate intelligence of the human body. They also often render the dieter weaker and in worse shape than before, particularly if the inevitable post-pill weight gain leads to a bout of emotional eating and subsequent additional weight gain.

What is required is a rather dated staple of healthy weight loss: a healthy diet[iii][4]. This is, however, easier said than done particularly since, as noted above, in America only about 25% of women and 20% eat enough fruit and vegetable servings per day.

Within this rather complex scenario or problems and limitations, however, there are some pioneering companies that are enjoying critical acclaim from both the medical and the weight loss fields.

These companies ? and admittedly there are extremely few of them -- offer dieters a balanced meal supplement that can also be used as a meal replacement. This is of particular value to dieting business executives, university students, and other frenetically busy people who do not have the time to prepare balanced, diet-conscious meals.

Of greater importance is that these advanced solutions do not suppress hunger at all, nor recklessly deny the body the nutrients and vitamins required for healthy survival. Instead, the body is given the fuel that it needs via vitamin fortified, low-calorie, fat-free food that is well-balanced and nutritionally sound.

It will remain unacceptable, offensive, and disturbing to see so-called "diet solutions" that are little more than appetite suppressants that can -- and often do -- create much more harm than superficial, temporary good. It is expected that, eventually, such products will be exposed for the irresponsible items that they are, and banned from the marketplace.

However, until that happens, it will be up to the responsible nutrition companies in America to continue developing solutions that truly help dieters help themselves in the long term.

About Protica

Founded in 2001, Protica, Inc. is a nutritional research firm with offices in Lafayette Hill and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Protica manufactures capsulized foods, including Profect, a compact, hypoallergenic, ready-to-drink protein beverage containing zero carbohydrates and zero fat. Information on Protica is available at www.protica.com. You can also learn about Profect at www.profect.com.

[1] Obesity, which is caused mainly by unhealthy eating, is responsible for an estimated 300,000 deaths per year and all of them preventable.

[2] The remaining 8 amino acids are called the "essential amino acids" and must be obtained through diet.

[3] This kind of diuretic weight loss, however, will come at the expense of muscle and not fat.

[4] In addition to diet, customized exercise plans are also proposed to aid and maintain healthy long-term weight loss.

References

[i] Source: "Physical Activity and Unhealthy Eating". The Directors of Health Promotion and Education. http://www.astdhpphe.org/pubs_facts_physicalfactsheet3.asp

[ii] Source: "Potentially Dangerous Diet Strategies". PDR.Net. http://health.yahoo.com/centers/weight_loss/30004

[iii] Source: "Weight Loss: What Really Works?". WebMD. http://my.webmd.com/content/article/49/40236.htm

Copyright 2004 - Protica Research - http://www.protica.com

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