Mindful Advice: Drugs Not Total Answer to Weight Loss

No matter how superbly your natural body weight control systems work, if you have a bad day at the office, get yelled at by your spouse and decide to cope by downing a quart of Baskin Robbins Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream, you are going to gain weight.

"You can override your exquisite system at any time," says Stephen Woods, a UW psychology professor and researcher into the psychological factors behind obesity. "Your body can't compensate for certain behaviors."

Though a human's physiology will actually catch up--and cause you to eat less to compensate for the stress-induced binge of calories--what happens outside of the body has tremendous impact on your physiology and hips.

Until only recently, obesity and overeating was considered a psychological problem. As a kid, you had bad habits or reacted to such things as the smell of pizza, and your lack of will power was what did you in and made your waistline expand.

That, in turn, led to the explosion of commerical weight-loss groups and organizations, touting everything from sensibility to nonsense. Well, guess what. It is nearly the year 2000 and there are still gobs of obese people out there.

"Either psychologists have utterly failed," Woods says, "or the model was wrong, and this isn't a psychological problem."

Though the genetic and biological factors regulating body weight have been established, it doesn't mean finding artificial controls for them through drugs will solve the trick. "I can overide the system cognitively," Woods says. "You cannot predict the size of a meal, and then there are social situations, senses and everything else. Emotions and behaviors do play a big part. And those who think taking a drug to make them thin are in to learn something."--Jon Marmor

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