For people who feel they must lose weight, or whose health requires it, some approaches may work, although probably not forever.

* The Fast. An increasingly popular technique, especially for the grossly obese. A number of area physicians employ it, using a new generation of high-quality protein food substitutes. One of them, Dr. Arthur Frank, a Washington internist who conducts a separate practice devoted to weight control, likens obesity to schizophrenia. "In no other disease except obesity do we demand that it never return," he says. "In schizophrenia we try to get it under control and help to keep it that way, but we really expect that it may recur and when it does, it is no criticism of the patient." He brings this attitude to the control of weight with a carefully monitored fasting program, support groups and meticulous attention to physiological detail. For more information, call: 362-9500.

* The Tapes. Psychologist Lucille Shandloff has developed an artful tape-- part relaxation technique, part autogenics, part cheering section--designed to help individuals understand their own psychological set-points. Early survey results show a definite motivating effect. The tapes also have elements of self-regulation techniques taught through biofeedback; they could be an aid in helping the mind influence the body's biochemistry. Shandloff's tape is available for $15. She also directs a program involving the tape and therapy. For more information: 567-1338.

Among other programs, which include control of eating disorders like anorexia, bulimarexia or compulsive binging:

* Georgetown University Diet Management Clinic: 625-3674.

* The Growth Center for Women: 984-0234.

* Taking It Off, another approach to body-awareness. Phone: 338-8200.