97% of diets fail. For the half of America looking to lose excess weight, this is dismaying news. During the pandemic, 42% of adults unintentionally gained weight. Despite being a major health issue in this country, only 56% of physicians feel qualified to treat obesity. Training in obesity management is scarce, and improper delivery can lead to overweight patients feeling judged by their doctor. Defensive patients are less likely to follow through with medical advice. These are just some of the challenges doctors face when trying to help their patients.
One underutilized tool in weight loss is medication. Just a quarter of doctors account for 90% of all weight loss prescriptions. Under 3% of eligible patients are prescribed weight loss medication. These medications have been studied extensively. One of the most popular weight loss drugs, phentermine, was approved by the FDA in 1959. For people on Bupropion or Naltrexone, patients lost 7 to 8 times as much of their body weight after 24 weeks compared to those who used diet and exercise alone.
Another issue of concern with regards to losing weight is mental health. 3 in 5 Americans say the weight loss process itself is nearly as miserable as being overweight. Mental conditions such as depression can contribute to problems with weight. Some people living with depression eat emotionally; half of adults with a history of binge eating have also experienced depression. Some people have a genuine food addiction, one just as dangerous as other forms of substance abuse.