WEIGHT LOSS MEDICATION
Health care providers use the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a measure of your weight in relation to your height, to define overweight and obesity. People who have a BMI between 25 and 30 are considered overweight. Obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or greater. You can calculate your BMI to learn if you are overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese may increase the risk of health problems. Your health care provider can assess your individual risk due to your weight.
Obesity is a chronic condition that affects more than one in three adults in the United States. Another one in three adults is overweight. If you are struggling with your weight, you may find that a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity help you lose weight and keep it off over the long term. If these lifestyle changes are not enough to help you lose weight or maintain your weight loss, your doctor may prescribe medications as part of your weight-control program.
How do weight loss medication work?
Prescription medications to treat overweight and obesity work in different ways. For example, some medications may help you feel less hungry or full sooner. Other weight loss medication may make it harder for your body to absorb fat from the foods you eat
What are the benefits of using prescription medications to lose weight?
When combined with changes to behavior, including eating and physical activity habits, prescription medications may help some people lose weight. On average, people who take prescription medications as part of a lifestyle program lose between 3 and 9 percent more of their starting body weight than people in a lifestyle program who do not take medication. Research shows that some people taking prescription weight loss medication lose 10 percent or more of their starting weight.1 Results vary by medication and by person.
Weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of your starting body weight may help improve your health by lowering blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides. Losing weight also can improve some other health problems related to overweight and obesity, such as joint pain or sleep apnea. Most weight loss takes place within the first 6 months of starting the medication.
What are the concerns with using prescription medications to lose weight?
Experts are concerned that, in some cases, the side effects of prescription medications to treat overweight and obesity may outweigh the benefits. For this reason, you should never take a weight-loss medication only to improve the way you look. In the past, some weight loss medications were linked to serious health problems. For example, the FDA recalled fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine (part of the “fen-phen” combination) in 1997 because of concerns related to heart valve problems.
Possible side effects vary by the type of weight loss medication and how it acts on your body. Most side effects are mild and most often improve if you continue to take the medication. Rarely, serious side effects can occur.
Tips for Taking Weight loss Medication
Follow your doctor’s instructions about weight-loss medications.
Buy your medication from a pharmacy or web distributor approved by your doctor.
Take weight-loss medication to support your healthy eating and physical activity program.
Know the side effects and warnings for taking any medication.
Ask your doctor if you should stop taking your medication if you are not losing weight after 12 weeks.
Discuss other medications, including supplements and vitamins, you are taking with your doctor when considering weight-loss medications.
Avoid taking weight-loss medications during pregnancy or if you are planning a pregnancy.