The magic, miracle weight-loss drug…

…doesn’t exist! Well, how else was I going to get your attention?! We are constantly trumpeting the fact that there is no ‘quick-fix’ for obesity – but people are still hoping that there is! As a weight-loss surgeon, I know that there is no miracle drug for weight-loss… I would be prescribing it if there was. However as a recent study shows, the thought of being able to pop a pill to magically melt that fat away still persists. What’s more, it may encourage us to overeat, in the hope that we can compensate for our indulgence with a tablet.

The study in question gave participants free rein with high calorie cookies. Half of the group had been told beforehand about a powerful, new, fat-fighting pill (fictitious, of course!). This half ate significantly more cookies (up to 30!) than the other half of the group – presumably expecting that a quick-fix was just around the corner.

We do something similar when it comes to tucking in over Christmas. We know, deep down, that the New Year diet won’t last long enough to lose that irritating stone or so, but we tell ourselves that we are ok to indulge in extra mince pies and chocolates because this time our willpower will last and we will succeed on the latest fad diet come January!

A much better approach would be to be honest with yourself, indulge a little less over Christmas (you will feel healthier and less sluggish anyway!) and promise yourself to make a few small but sustainable habit changes in the New Year instead. Join us on our Weight Loss Programme if you need more guidance. By next Christmas, the thought of a crash diet won’t even cross your mind!

If that is not enough to get you to eat a little more healthily this festive season, then have you thought about how junk food really affects you?

Three reasons to ditch the junk food:

healthy vendingIt can be as addictive as a drug.
More and more evidence is revealing that sugar actually has a similar effect on us as a drug addiction. When we consume sugar, our bodies release dopamine –a hormone that makes us feel good (hence our cravings when we are feeling low). But the problem is that the more sugar we have, the less dopamine we produce – which leaves us wanting more sugar to get our dopamine fix. This can turn into an addictive spiral, with us craving more and more sugar over time – something our waistlines will end up suffering for. Want to beat your addiction? Cutting back over time can help reduce cravings, or you could go cold-turkey. You’ll feel better for it in the long run!

It can monopolize your diet.
A study on rats showed that rats who had overeaten one specific type of healthy food stopped responding to it – their body’s way of encouraging them to try other foods. In the same study, rats who were fed on processed, unhealthier foods didn’t stop responding to the foods – they would happily continue their junk-food diet, and actually ended up gaining weight. Could this happen to humans too? The researchers think this is likely – which could explain why so many people are happy living off a diet of pizza and chips!

It can make you moody.
According to a study from the San Diego School of Medicine, junk food can put you in a bad mood. The research showed that people in the study who had a higher intake of trans fats (those found in processed junk foods) had a correlated increase in aggression and irritability. So cutting back on junk food could put you in a better mood – and I’m sure those around you will appreciate your improved mood too!
So if the thought of losing weight doesn’t make you want to cut the junk, then maybe the thought of the effects it has on you will!


L Bolton, A Bhattacharjee, A Reed. The Perils of Marketing Weight Management Remedies and the Role of Health Literacy. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing 2014.

Cafeteria diet impairs expression of sensory-specific satiety and stimulus-outcome learning. A Reichelt, M Morris, R. F. Westbrook Front. Psychol. August 2014

Trans fats consumption and agression: B Golomb, M Evans, H White, J Dimsdale. Trans Fat Consumption and Aggression. PLoS ONE, 2012


As you know, at Vavista Life HQ we are always encouraging you to read the label on the food you buy – as so many products are not quite what they seem! The healthiest looking product, plastered with words such as ‘one of your 5-a-day’, ‘vitamin-packed’ or ‘all-natural’ can be hiding all sorts of sugary, fatty contents if you read the small print! Whilst reading the label is important, we also stress the importance of thinking about why you are eating – it’s usually not just hunger, but often stress, boredom or habit.

A recent study compared these two important elements that are vital to weight control. The researchers gave one group of people training in recognizing emotional cues to eating before asking them to choose either a healthy item or a chocolate bar. Another group had no such prior training. Not only were the emotionally aware group more likely to choose the healthier snack, but 3 months later had lost weight. The comparison group had actually gained weight.

So, whilst reading the labels will continue to be important in making us aware of what we are selecting, it is also clear that it is probably even more important to be aware of what is driving us to eat in the first place.

Emotional Ability Training and Mindful Eating. B Kidwell, J Hasford, D Hardesty. Journal of Marketing Research 2014


Are we running out of chocolate? Well, according to some reports this week, we could well be on the way. Two of the world’s largest chocolate producers have reported a deficit in chocolate worldwide – essentially, we are eating more than is being produced. And apparently, this deficit is likely to grow. Can you imagine a world without chocolate?!

You might be surprised that we are chocolate fans here at Vavista Life HQ – in fact, we love the stuff (who doesn’t!). We’ve a particular fancy for dark chocolate, which is not only delicious, but can be full of hidden health benefits!

In all honesty, we can’t quite believe the world would ever be chocolate-less. In fact, what this latest revelation does is remind us that perhaps we should stop over-indulging in the stuff, and instead focus on treating ourselves every now and then with a good quality bar of dark (85%) chocolate. Not only is dark chocolate rich enough to stop you overindulging, but if we make sure we are buying fairtrade bars, we’re also helping to support the cocoa farmers. Hopefully that will help them to continue producing our favourite treat!