“They don’t really work,” said Dr Norton. “The only one that we’re actually really allowed to use is called orlistat, which stops you absorbing fat. If you eat a lot of fat whilst on the pills you get terrible diarrhoea, so what happens is that people who want to eat fatty food stop taking their tablets, and the weight goes back on again."
Chewing gum, instead of food
“There’s evidence to show that it doesn’t actually work,” said Dr Norton. “There is evidence to suggest that artificial sweetners, which are in chewing gum, actually encourage weight gain as they maintain your sweet tooth but don’t give you that sugar fill, so you go looking for different sugary foods.”
Drinking diet drinks
“There are some studies that show some improvement when people drink diet drinks, and some that don’t. In terms of weight loss no real proven benefit.
“What we really need to be doing is reducing our sweet tooth – changing our pallets is very easy, we just have to wean ourselves off sweet food in the same we we’ve all weaned ourselves off salty food, when new rules about the amount of salt in food came in and salt levels were reduced. It would be great if we could do that with sugar.”
Eating the same things every day
“Being bored with your food by eating the same meals every day is just another fad and doesn’t encourage normal eating behaviour. In humans there’s an inbuilt mechanism that if you eat the same foods for a while your body encourages you to go looking for other foods.
“Interestingly, in experiments with rats, research shows that that natural response doesn’t kick in if you’re eating junk food.”
Sleeping in the dark
“It’s true,” agreed Dr Norton. “Sleeping in the dark and away from screens would get our body clocks back on track and could curb weight gain. The artificial light affects our melatonin which could affect our weight gain. Sleep in the dark.”
Eating almonds and seeds
“These are good healthy foods, so yes that’s true. Not in large quantities though, as they’re quite high in calories. But if you have good nutrition and good omega three levels you’ll be in a much better place to make healthy choices. We should be eating fresh fish three times a week ideally to get good levels of omega three.”
What should we do?
“Don’t think about it,” suggested Dr Norton. “You should focus on getting on enough sleep and good healthy nutrition to help you fight the addiction to sugar. The weight loss will follow.
“Lastly, make small steps. Everyone goes on a crash diet and then gives it up after a few weeks and then they put on the weight again and more. It’s much better to just do something to change, and then pick on something else and build habits.”