This week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first new prescription diet pill in 13 years, providing a new option for the roughly one-third of American adults considered obese. This approval was covered widely due not only to the opportunity that it provides for some people trying to lose weight to bridge the gap between using diet and exercise to lose weight or using surgery, but also because of the rocky history of diet pills and the potential pitfalls of relying on a pill to achieve a more healthful lifestyle.
With over 1/3 of the American population overweight or obese, is this new diet pill the silver bullet? Or will it still come down to a matter of behavior modification to address this epidemic? With diet pills coming soon to a store or doctor’s office near you, is there still a role for social marketing in preventing overweight and obesity?
For me the answer is overwhelmingly yes. There is no one answer to changing an individual’s behavior to better their health, and ultimately reduce the incidence of overweight and obesity. While a diet pill may aid in weight loss, ultimately it still comes down to an individual’s choice to eat better and get more exercise – the old adage that it’s all about calories in and calories out still applies. So in fact, in some ways, we’re all working in partnership, whether it be the manufacturers making a diet pill or those of us working to affect positive behavior change to prevent overweight and obesity as a public health imperative.
Tackling obesity isn’t just about any one thing or one approach. It’s about changing perceptions and attitudes about health. And for that, it’s all hands on deck!