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July 25, 1959


Author Affiliations

New York

Clinical Professor of Medicine, State University of New York, Medical Center at New York, and Attending Physician, Kings County and Goldwater Memorial hospitals.

JAMA. 1959;170(13):1513-1515. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03010130017003

One hundred consecutive, unselected patients with clinical obesity were classified as to the etiology of their condition. Overeating was accepted as the cause in 82, but in 18 cases this explanation was not satisfactory. The latter were mostly complicated cases of endocrine or metabolic disease. Satisfactory reduction (loss of 10% or more) of body weight was accomplished in 63 of the 82 and in 5 of the 18 by caloric restriction of diet. Simply reducing the portions of everything by about one-quarter enabled the patients to eat normally with inconspicuous modifications of the "social diet." Underlying emotional problems, if obvious to the practitioner, were treated by surface psychotherapy; if they were deep-seated, the patient was sent to a specialist. The author suggests medication with mild sedatives or anorectics as helpful during the period while new eating habits are being established.