Weight Loss Pills: Is It All In The Mind?

May 15th, 2014
Weight Loss Pills: Is It All In The Mind?

Obesity and dieting have become great obsessions in the 21st century.

However, there are people who seem to struggle with their weight, believing that they are unable to lose it, and when they don’t their belief is confirmed.

Recently, scientists have been looking at whether those who find it difficult to lose weight and take medication to help them lose it are setting themselves up for failure.

One of the lead researchers, Dr. Jane Ogden, interviewed 2 men and 8 women who had been prescribed the weight loss drug Xenicol. During the interview, she asked the following 4 questions:

1. How did you find taking Xenical?

2. Do you think it helped you to lose weight?

3. Do you intend to take it again in the future?

4. Do you feel you still have a weight problem?

Between them, the patients had an average age of 51.7 years. Interestingly, the volunteers gained an average of 14.95 kilograms over a period of 18 months.

All but one volunteer discontinued taking the drug.

After analysis of the results of the interview, researchers found a common theme, plus an overarching idea as to why the patients never lost weight.

It seems that the individuals had a pre-conceived belief that they could never lose weight. Therefore they relied upon the medication as they felt that they themselves were incapable. When they didn’t lose weight, the patients’ belief was confirmed.

In psychology, this is called the ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’. This means that people believe something and therefore have expectations about the outcome. When their expectations are met, the prophecy is confirmed.

Dr. Ogden believes that patients don’t take responsibility, but transfer ownership of the problem onto the drug.This means effectively that their pre-conceived belief isn’t challenged.

What does this mean in practice?

Researchers believe that obesity practitioners should change the way they deal with patients with such pre-conceived beliefs.

For instance, they should explain that the drug is a tool to help lose weight, but shouldn’t be viewed as a cure on its own.

Researchers also feel that physicians should encourage their patients to look properly at dietary change as well as taking charge of their weight problem. Instead of expecting a drug or even an expert take charge, they must be given the confidence that they have what it takes to lose weight.

 

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