Weight Loss Medication – Overweight, obesity, or severe obesity is a complex health issue caused by different factors. And also, is associated with reduced quality of life and poor mental health. Obesity can result from genetics but is mostly related to behavioral factors such as medication use, unhealthy lifestyle, inactivity, etc.
Unhealthy lifestyle behaviors are the major contributor to overweight and obesity. These behaviors include unhealthy dieting or eating habits, lack of exercise, smoking, and heavy drinking.
Health care professionals use BMI (Body Mass Index) to define obesity and overweight. BMI measures your weight concerning your height. For example, overweight individuals have a BMI of between 25 and 30, while obesity is characterized by a BMI of 30 and above.
People struggling with obesity or being overweight are advised to eat a healthy diet and participate in regular physical activities to help them lose weight and maintain their status long-term. If the lifestyle behavior changes do not help with weight loss, healthcare professionals may prescribe weight loss medications.
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Medication for Weight Loss Medication
Prescription weight loss medication, also referred to as anti-obesity drugs or weight loss pills or diet pills, are pharmacological agents that help reduce or control weight. These medications are prescribed to patients as an additional treatment for weight loss. They are mostly recommended for persons who have made lifestyle changes with no significant weight loss.
Health care professionals assess your health; identify factors contributing to your weight gain and other health issues before prescribing the best anti-obesity pills that suit your condition. These medications can affect your health if you have underlying health conditions and may possess mild side effects such as constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. However, these effects typically lessen over time.
Health care professionals consider different factors before they prescribe weight loss drugs to their patients. Patients can be recommended medication if they:
- Have a BMI of 30 or greater.
- Have obesity-related health issues and with a BMI of 27 or greater.
- Haven’t made any significant weight loss after six months despite diet, behavior changes, and exercise.
How Weight Loss Medication Work
Prescription medications for weight loss work in different ways. The various mechanisms include:
- Some weight loss pills suppress appetite and are known as anorexiants
- Some make you feel full sooner
- Some make it harder for the body to absorb fats
Some weight loss pills contain drug components used in the treatment of other health conditions. Therefore, health care professionals recommend you consider using such medications for dual purposes if you possess such conditions.
Examples of such conditions include:
- Migraines- people who suffer migraines may consider Qsymia, which has the component topiramate approved for seizures and migraines.
- Type 2 diabetes- Saxenda helps lower your blood sugar as well as help with weight loss
- Depression- Contrave is a treatment option as it contains bupropion which is an antidepressant.
Health care professionals will require your medical history, including underlying conditions, whether pregnant or planning to be pregnant, any allergies, supplements, and medicines you’re currently taking.
The medications approved by the FDA for overweight or obesity treatment can be for short or long-term use. However, doctors mostly recommend drugs for long-term use.
Short-term Weight Loss pills
- Phentermine (Adipex-P, Fastin) -curbs appetite.
Long-term Weight loss pills
- orlistat (Xenical, Alli) – curbs appetite
- phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia) – treat migraines and seizures
- naltrexone/bupropion (Contrave)- treat opioid and alcohol dependence and depression
- liraglutide (Saxenda) – type 2 diabetes management
Diet and Exercise
Changes in physical activity and diet are the first steps to losing weight. Weight medications are not recommended for everyone with a high BMI but for those who meet the BMI criteria for the medications.
People suffering from obesity or being overweight have the chance to lose weight when they make lifestyle changes that modify and improve their physical activity and eating habits.
A very low-calorie diet, where your calorie intake per day is less than 800, may be recommended. This kind of diet helps with rapid weight loss and is the best way of managing obesity. It is also ideal for persons suffering from obesity-related conditions.
A healthy diet should consist of healthy choices such as high energy foods and avoid fast foods and sugary drinks like alcohol.
Maintaining a healthy weight requires you to be physically active to burn excess energy. Physical activity has a wide range of health benefits apart from managing obesity. The minimum recommended amount of moderate-intensity exercise is 150 minutes per week. Examples of physical activities include swimming, walking, dancing, cycling, etc.
Benefits of Weight Loss Medication
- They help with weight loss and maintaining weight loss.
- Weight loss improves health by lowering blood sugars, triglyceride levels, and blood pressure.
- Helps avoid obesity-related health conditions such as sleep apnea and joint pains.
- They help avoid complications that arise during surgeries due to obesity.