Why Diet Drugs Are Not the Answer
By Kathryn Martyn, M.NLP
Clinical trials are ongoing for many drugs meant to induce weight loss, reduce appetite, affect the absorption of nutrients and more. Consumers desperately want these drugs, claiming they cannot lose weight on their own. "If only there were a pill I could take that would take away my appetite," they say. "If only a pill could make me slender." But there's trouble in paradise. Consider this: Most people who overeat already ignore their body's messages concerning hunger, fullness and satisfaction. If you ignore your body's signals for hunger, and eat when you're not hungry, how will a drug that suppresses your appetite possibly help?
The short answer is it won't. Some people lose weight while on a drug because they expect to eat less, and for a short time (during the study) will pay attention to the signals their body sends regarding hunger. They'll also make every effort to keep to "the program." Eating what is suggested, getting more exercise, waiting anxiously for the day they can get off "the program," and get back to their real lives. Once they stop taking the magic pills, it is back to the habits that got them in trouble in the first place.
Unless you address the daily habits, and learn new patterns of eating, exercise, stress relief, recreation, etc. nearly every person will revert back to their old way of eating as soon as possible. It's a human response to return to the familiar and comfortable, and entirely predictable. That explains the dismal failure rate of diet programs.
Since This is Costing a Fortune, It'd Better Work! Sometimes various programs work simply because of the large sums of money being spent on them. You better make it work, it's costing enough. Who wants to tell their spouse they're spending hundreds of dollars on a program and then not follow that program? No one, that's who. That's also why many will ignore the sensible advice to learn to listen to your body's hunger signals, learn to pay attention to what you body wants or needs (cravings can be a clue), and learn to eat for better health and nutrition. That advice is free -- hence, rarely followed.
Until a person truly adopts the lifestyle of eating when hungry and stopping when satisfied, no drug will help, and most likely will only harm their health. I challenge any drug manufacturer to prove a single drug that has no known harmful side effects. No company will come forward because there are no such drugs. None. Aspirin kills hundreds of people every single year but there is no move to take it off the market, yet let a herbal supplement be blamed for a handful of problems and zoom come the FDA police to whip it off the shelves.
Most drugs have a huge list of side effects that a prudent person might determine are worse than what is being treated in the first place: Would you prefer dry mouth, constipation, cramps, rapid hearth beat, nausea, dizziness, sleeplessness, and more, in place of 10 extra pounds?
What's With the Recommended Eating Pamphlet? Let's not forget one other small detail about these weight loss drugs. Along with your expensive prescription and all the fun side effects you might enjoy, you are also given a pamphlet describing a low calorie eating plan which you are expected to follow. Usually ridiculously low calorie. Essentially you could skip the drugs entirely and get the same result by simply following the low calorie diet plan.
Example: Anti-depression Medication Effective for Weight Loss A study published in the July 2002 issue of Obesity Research showed that two popular drugs, Wellbutrin ® for treating depression and Zyban ® prescribed for quitting smoking are also effective in weight loss.
The 48-week study was made up of two parts. In the first 24-week program, 227 people diagnosed as obese were randomly assigned to either receive a placebo, or one or two doses of bupropion every day. Of note, the study required the participants to restrict their food intake and increase their exercise by 50%.
Those receiving the higher dose of bupropion lost an average of 10% of their body weight compared with those receiving the lower dose losing 7% and those on placebo losing only 5%.
The second 24-week period included 192 of the original participants (no word on the fate of the missing 35 participants -- perhaps the restrictions on eating and exercise were too much to bear?). This time all participants received either one or two doses of bupropion, and results were reported as those on the higher dose maintaining an 8.6 percent loss and those on the lower dose maintaining a 7.5 percent loss.
Dr. Richard Atkinson, president of the American Obesity Association said, "This is a drug that people have taken for many years to treat depression with few problems or side effects... If it can be just as effective in treating obesity, it has the potential to help a lot of people." Anderson enplaned that bupropion helps to reduce the urge to eat by reducing the flow of the hormones norepinephrine and dopamine to the brain. Some side effects reported were dry mouth and diarrhea.
Is This a Successful Program? This begs the question: Was there no further weight loss? Were all the participants now at a healthy weight and no further weight loss was needed? Were the food and exercise requirements changed in any way? Since obesity is defined as being 30% over ideal weight, a 10% loss, while perhaps removing a person from the obese class still isn't exactly "normal" weight, is it?
Let's put this in perspective: If the average weight for your height is 140 pounds, and you weigh 30% more than that (to be considered clinically obese), you'd weigh 182 pounds. If you lost 10% of your body weight over 24 weeks, that would be 18 pounds, or 1.33 pounds lost per week, and at the end of the 24 weeks you'd now weigh 164 pounds.
During the second 24 week period, you had the higher dose and maintained an 8.5 percent loss, or 15.47 pounds. You now weigh approximately 166.53 pounds after 48 weeks of effort -- nearly an entire year to lose just over 15 pounds? Sorry but that's an a pretty sorry result in my opinion, especially considering these study participants were taking a potentially harmful drug. No drugs are side effect free. What happened when these people ended the study? Those would be results I'd love to see.
I lost 80 lb. following my own Live it! plan, and it wasn't at all difficult. No drugs, no side effects. These results (15 lb. lost over 48 weeks) are ridiculous.
More Questions than Answers These studies tend to leave me with more questions than answers, but you judge for yourself. If a drug that can help in the initial stages of weight loss is of interest to you, be on the lookout for more news on bupropion.