When an underlying psychologic reason for overeating is absent, and the patient’s overweight is merely the result of a long-continued habit of excess nibbling, reduction of weight is easy. When overeating is mixed with emotional satisfactions, removal of the overeating may be associated with disturbing mental reactions. The doctor has to find the mental conflicts that are the real basis of the overweight. Dr. George Thorn has called attention to the difference in care of the fat girl led into the doctor’s office by an anxious and yet domineering mother from that of the girl who wants to increase her personal attractiveness in order to achieve certain social relationships. For that reason, control of overeating is much easier with a sixteen-year-old girl than with one approaching thirteen.
With older people, fear of such conditions as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis or heart failure may be the reason for weight reduction. Nevertheless, older people have established habits of life including regular meetings of luncheon clubs, banquets, parties and what-not which make dieting difficult. For such people a trip away from their accustomed surroundings to a health resort is advantageous, because the environment is more conducive to restricted eating.
An eminent authority on dieting suggested recently the organization of a group which he wanted to call “Calories Anonymous” because people can, in this way, have their own will power reinforced by that of the group. Weight-reduction classes are successful because of the factor of competition, of exchange of ideas, joint participation in exercises, group walking, dancing, and similar activities.
At the appearance of any sign of distress associated with a weightreduction program, the patient should consult his doctor. If the program needs to be modified, the earlier it is done the better.