What would an ideal weight loss drug look like?

Topics: Obesity and Weight Loss, Wellness and Health

Differently for doctors than for patients.

For most doctors, what counts is what can be measured. Weight is just one parameter to be measured.

For doctors, five percent weight loss can make a big difference in other numbers. That means if you are 240 pounds, losing 12 pounds is what can help.

The drug might reduce the number of or dosage of diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol medications. And your blood sugar, blood pressure and lipid medications.

The drug might lower obesity-related disability and workers comp claims.

The drug would be entirely safe—no life-threatening heart valve problems, pulmonary hypertension, or even oily leakage.

The drug would not mess with mood: there is more depression and mood disorder in people who are overweight than those who are not.

For patients, it looks differently.

For most patients, what matters is how they look and feel. Preventing and treating medical problems is secondary or tertiary.

Most are dissatisfied with anything less than a 20 percent weight loss. Many want more. Sometimes that’s possible, safely. Sometimes it’s not.

That means if you are 240 pounds, losing 48 pounds is what’s needed. At least.

Most importantly, the drug would work. Safety is important, but many studies show what patients really want is effectiveness.

The drug would improve satiety (suh-tie-a-tee), meaning feeling full and fully satisfied.

The drug would improve the delicately phrased “dietary restraint”, meaning binge eating and gorging.

The drug would help with not packing on the pounds if you happen to quit smoking at the same time.

And the drug would improve how much energy you have, how far you can walk, how well you fit into your clothes, how attractive you are to others and be taken just once daily, or less.

Plus it would help you with long-term maintenance of weight loss.

Is this so unreasonable? For a single pill, yes, it is.

But it’s not unreasonable if you think about your weight loss as a project.

Like it was writing a business plan, or building a house, or planning a vacation.

Mehmet Oz has been quoted as saying “in America, we have moved to a belief that the magic bullet of modern medicine will always cure us of our ills; that we can sprinkle a little bit of a statin drug on a kielbasa and we’ll still be okay. And we have to change that.”

Dr. Oz is right. And the way to change it is one step at a time, one person at a time. That’s a project worth doing.