The Quit Smoking, Quit Sugar Drugs

Recently, Childhood Obesity News mentioned the recent discovery that drugs like varenicline, which have been used to help people quit smoking, also seem able to help people who are hooked on sugar, by treating the sensory addiction component of eating addiction. As Dr. Pretlow has written, eating addiction results from a mixture of sensory and behavioral addiction components in varying ratios. Anything that approaches the problem from either angle should be examined for potential usefulness.

Apparently, varenicline and related drugs also affect lab animals that are habituated to artificial sweeteners like saccharin. Prof. Selena Bartlett, the Queensland University of Technology neuroscientist who did the research, hopes that this class of pharmaceuticals will provide a “novel new treatment strategy to tackle the obesity epidemic.”

Unfortunately, humans are likely to experience disturbing side effects. Varenicline, sold under the proprietary name of Chantix, has been found to produce stomach pain, indigestion, nausea (that may persist for several months), constipation, vomiting, gas, and blood in the urine or stool — and that’s just the digestive system. Farther up, at the digestive system’s receiving end, patients have reported dryness and an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

There have been reports of sleep disturbance and insomnia, unusual dreams, mental confusion, severe headaches, weakness, and fatigue. When treatment with this type of drug is initiated, the patients is warned to be on the lookout for chest pain and shortness of breath; vision, speech, and balance anomalies; blistering skin rash; easy bruising; and coughing up blood. Additionally:

Patients may experience psychiatric symptoms such as behavioral changes, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal behavior while using Chantix.

Now, let’s look at Dr. Pretlow’s Huffington Post article about his W8Loss2Go program, which warns of the following harmful side effects: none. Dr. Pretlow writes:

The sensory addiction component is treated similarly to drug addiction by withdrawal/abstinence, first from each problem food, one-by-one, until cravings or difficulty resisting the food resolve. Next comes withdrawal from snacking (non-specific foods), accomplished by advancing snack stoppage time periods — morning, afternoon, evening, night time — with the aim of zero snacking for the entire day. Lastly, withdrawal from excessive portions at home meals is achieved by weighing and recording typical amounts of frequent foods served and incrementally reducing amounts.

Using the W8Loss2Go smartphone application results in no yucky taste in the mouth, no disfiguring rash, no weird dreams, and best of all, no risk of spewing up stomach contents that look like coffee grounds due to the presence of coagulated blood. With W8Loss2Go, absolutely no gastrointestinal distress is involved except for normal feelings of hunger, which diminish over time.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Treating sugar addiction like drug abuse,”, 04/17/16
Source: “Chantix,”, undated
Photo credit: DavidFlam via Visual Hunt/CC BY

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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