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The old ways are the only game in town

This October saw yet another medical device fail in a high-profile clinical trial. Alongside the pharmaceutical industry, manufacturers have been designing devices to help people lose weight. Why? Well, with obesity reaching epidemic proportions around the world, there are millions of people “out there” waiting to buy something that will help them shed unwanted pounds. Everyone wants a quick and easy solution to an age-old problem: how do you lose weight without any change in your lifestyle? Everyone wants to keep on eating without paying the price in extra pounds. Unfortunately, just as there’s no sign of a magic bullet drug that will burn away those unwanted pounds, the latest scientific implant has also failed. It has been deja vu all over again. The pre-trial hype claimed this revolutionary device would use technology to suppress appetite. If people do not feel hungry, they will eat less and lose weight. The result? The device proved absolutely safe. Why? Probably because the device had no measurable effect on the bodies of those who tried it out.

This latest failure forces everyone back to the real world. There are no drugs in the development pipeline to save people from themselves. There are no magic machines you can wave over your body or have a surgeon implant. The only way to lose weight is to eat a sensible diet and exercise. The hard rule is that you have to burn more calories than you eat. In the stock exchange, the share price of the latest manufacturer to claim a miracle treatment fell by almost 80% when the news of failure was announced. Reading this, your spirits have also fallen sharply. This is sad news. Indeed, this is why most people fail to lose weight. They get depressed when weight does not fall off. They give up the “unequal struggle” with their waistlines. The necessary lifestyle changes never materialize.

The problem starts when you’re young. You’re surrounded by unhealthy food and it comes in giant portions. Worse, your parents now have the money to pay for this food. Go back fifty years and there was less money around. Parents struggled to put food on the table. Most people grew up thin. By a curious coincidence, fifty years ago saw the release of phentermine into the weight loss market. This was a revolutionary drug designed to reduce appetite. Now that the world desperately needs a way to help people lose weight, phentermine is still the drug of choice. Except there’s just one small problem. All phentermine does is to reduce your appetite. This leaves you with the hard lifting. You still have to change your eating habits and eat smaller portions of healthier food. The most weight will only be lost if you also exercise. The need is still to burn more calories than you eat. If your lifestyle remains the same, you will fail even though the drug has an unbeatable track record – fifty years of safe and effective treatment.