I've just read a study dealing with appetite-suppressing drugs, principally one called Phentermine (that's the generic name; it's branded with other names such as Fastin).
I had to read the report three times before I understood it...full of long words and clinician-speak!
But it seems to me that this drug deals with the symptoms of the problem, i.e overeating rather than the problem itself, i.e why people overeat.
People overeat for many reasons, among them boredom, depression, stress, and sometimes just habit.
Eating is pleasurable; it stimulates "feel-good" chemicals in the brain. Chocolate is renowned for this, surprise, surprise. After all, what is better than a family-sized bar of Fruit and Nut? Sex? Miles behind!!
On a more serious note, this good feeling doesn't last. So you continue eating. And eventually, it gets to be a habit that you can't stop. And don't want to. You see your body ballooning. So you make a huge effort and go on a diet. Big mistake! (See our other articles for what we think of diets!). So now you're miserable. All you can think of is food. By Tuesday lunchtime you've given up. So you mentally beat yourself up. And so it goes on...
In a nutshell, and without any technobabble, there is an area in your brain that tells you when you are hungry. So you eat. There is another area that tells you when you have had enough. So you stop eating.
But you can override these "switches" if you try hard enough. Hence eating disorders, both those in which you eat too little (such as anorexia) and those where you eat too much - leading to obesity, feeling out of control, and resorting to desperate measures. This is where you turn to the likes of Phentermine, which works by interfering with the "switches", therefore decreasing your desire for food. Phentermine also stimulates the hormones which control your body's "fight or flight" response, which switches off the "hunger" sensor and reroutes more blood to the muscles and less blood to the stomach and digestive system ready for the command for "Action!" Which never comes.
Think about it; if something startles you, or you have to suddenly run to snatch a child out of the road, food is the last thing you think about! These appetite-suppressing drugs interfere with the chemistry in your brain. They can only be obtained on prescription, and that's only after a thorough medical check-up - they won't be prescribed if you have certain heart problems as they narrow small blood vessels and can cause critical disruption to the oxygen supply to the heart. They can also raise the pressure behind your eyes, so they won't be prescribed if you have glaucoma. Or overactive thyroid. Or a history of kidney stones. And usually, you will have to have a Body Mass Index over 30 (i.e obese) to be considered.
Still, it looks like Phentermine is an improvement on the former drugs used for appetite control Amphetamines. Yup, I kid you not. But the major problem with them (apart from the side - effects) was that people became addicted! So if they didn't keep taking them, they suffered from withdrawal, sometimes becoming seriously ill.
But Phentermine does have long term side - effects; among them the risk of anaphylactic shock (oh lovely!), dry mouth, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), shakes or jitteriness, anxiety, insomnia, loss of sex drive, increase in blood pressure...Shall I continue? And although not classed as addictive, they can be habit-forming, leading to symptoms of withdrawal.
And to cap all that?
You can't take them for long as your body becomes tolerant and they stop working!
Overeating has a cause. It is this that you need to deal with, rather than resorting to drugs. Alternative therapies such as hypnotherapy and acupuncture have been known to be helpful. Keep an open mind.