Also, explain to this Canadian why NASA is researching climate. Isn't NOAA supposed to be the agency for that?
When I worked at a US Geological Survey office that also archives all the US Govt satellite and aerial imagery, there was a memo that was sent out around 1993 or so. All research projects had to show how they were helping the study of global climate change. If they didn't, they were candidates for having their funding cut. The only exceptions were the ones that were being paid by external agencies or governments. So NASA is researching it for the same reason other agencies are: they have some expertise that can be useful and the funding keeps other projects alive.
It isn't so much the diet as it is the will of the person to change their behavior. They need to get their mind focused on a goal and decide to not live the way that they did in the past. I used to be over 300 pounds and tried a few things over the years that didn't help very much. I'd get on a big project and gain the weight back again because I was eating crap food and was always at my desk. I had some heart rhythm problems one day and to help diagnose the problem, my doctor had me wear a heart monitor for a week. After hearing about this, my mom and my older sister drove 1000 miles (some of it through a blizzard) to take care of me. After that, I swore that I'd never put my mom through that again and I wasn't going to be the lardass carted off to the hospital in an ambulance ever again. Monitoring my food intake via smartphone apps has been a huge help in addition to making what I eat at home instead of going out or eating pre-packaged stuff. I'm nearly 100 pounds down from my max weight and would be doing better if I could just stop doing stupid things that limit my ability to exercise (hell, I didn't know that shoes could be considered "worn out" before all the tread was off the bottom and that you can mess up your legs trying to run with them - but I do now.
So if your friend wants a doctor to prove to him that a particular diet plan to work, then it doesn't sound to me like he's had a "I have change, or I'm going to fucking die" moment. I hope he comes to that realization before he has any serious problems and can get to a healthy weight.
I see no reason why a pill couldn't be made to inhibit the intake, or facilitate the evacuation of, an unhealthy level of fats and carbs in the same way we can with sugars.
That already exists: http://www.webmd.com/diet/alli... If the first time you take it and then eat a really greasy meal (fried chicken, pizza, ribs, onion rings, etc), the next trip to the toilet will be a surprise. It will look like the Exxon Valdez ran around in the toilet bowl, but with globs of orange fat floating in the water instead. Also, when one feels and hears a rumble deep in your guts, it is time to find a bathroom as quickly as possible, because as Jim Lahey would say "the express shit train is all greased up and ready to leave the station".