Anti-obesity drugs fall short of providing long lasting health benefits, researchers have pointed out.
Experts at the University of Liverpool debated the drugs handled the biological consequences of obesity since most developers focused primarily on weight loss as their end goal.
Dr Jason Halford, Reader in Appetite and Obesity at the University of Liverpool, and his co-authors argued the important psychological causes that lead to over consumption and weight gain were left ignored.
Dr Halford said: "Anti-obesity drugs haven't successfully tackled the wider issues of obesity because they've been focused predominantly on weight loss. Obesity is the result of many motivational factors that have evolved to encourage us to eat, not least our susceptibility to the attractions of food and the pleasures of eating energy rich foods - factors which are, of course, all too effectively exploited by food manufacturers.
"As psychological factors are critical to the development of obesity, drug companies should take them into consideration when designing new drug therapies. We've learned a great deal about the neurochemical systems that govern processes like the wanting and liking of food, and it's time to exploit that knowledge to help people manage their eating behavior."
Professor Tim Kirkham, an authority on the biopsychology of appetite at the University of Liverpool, added: "Novel, effective anti-obesity treatments must address these different factors. We need to identify drugs that can selectively affect the desire to eat, the enjoyment of eating, fullness and satisfaction. Interventions designed specifically to modulate these processes could help reduce the aversive experience of dieting, and maximize an individual's capacity to successfully gain control over their appetite. Currently, we know little about the behavioural effects of anti-obesity drugs under development, and so we have little indication whether these new treatment address the underlying causes of obesity."
The study has been published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology.