There has been lot to stress and hype being laid by medication and drugs companies about the benefits and effectiveness of weight loss drugs.
Prescription weight-loss drugs aren't intended for people who just want to lose a few pounds for cosmetic reasons. They're generally reserved for people who are unable to achieve or maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise, and often have health problems as a result.
Factors to consider before starting Weight Loss Drugs
Your doctor may consider weight loss drugs for you if you have the following factors accounts:
Other methods of weight loss haven't worked for you. Your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 27 and you have medical complications of obesity, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea.
Your BMI is greater than 30. Prescription weight loss drugs are approved only for those with a BMI of 30 and above, or 27 and above if they have other risk factors, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Options for Weight Loss Drugs
Many have seen obesity drugs as an effective way to lose weight. Studies have suggested however, that the drugs may be more successful in maintaining weight loss rather than promoting weight loss. There are currently many weight loss drugs on the market. Most work by suppressing the appetite. While many hope to have a quick fix, results have shown that lifestyles changes first followed by the use of the pill is most productive.
For obese people who have difficulty losing weight through diet and exercise alone, there are a number of FDA-approved prescription drugs that may help.
Two prescription drugs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for long-term weight loss. These drugs work in different ways and cause different side effects.
Sibutramine (Meridia) - increases the levels of certain brain chemicals that help reduce appetite.
Orlistat (Xenical) - Xenical is the first in a new class of anti-obesity drugs known as lipase inhibitors. Lipase is the enzyme that breaks down dietary fat for use by the body. Xenical interferes with lipase function in the body.
Though not prescribed as often, several medications, such as phentermine (Adipex-P, Ionamin), are approved for short-term use. These drugs suppress appetite, but haven't been the subject of many long-term studies.
Care while selecting Weight Loss drugs
Combining weight-loss drugs with a low-calorie diet and regular exercise can help you lose more weight than can either drugs or lifestyle changes alone. Combining all three medication, fewer calories and more activity can help you lose anywhere from 5 percent to 10 percent of your total body weight within a year.
You and your doctor need to carefully evaluate the potential benefits of taking a drug and weigh them against the possible long-term risks. Your doctor will also consider your health history, the possible side effects and the potential interaction of weight-loss drugs with other medications you're taking.
Keep in mind that some health insurance plans don't cover weight-loss prescription drugs. And some companies may require prior authorization before covering the expense. If you're unsure of your prescription coverage, contact your health insurance provider.
These medications can help you with weight maintenance, especially if you continue exercising regularly. But keeping off the pounds once you've lost them is an ongoing concern. And despite your efforts, you might still regain the weight.
As you consider weight-loss drugs, make sure that you make every effort to exercise, change your eating habits and adjust any other lifestyle factors that have contributed to your excess weight. Weight-loss drugs aren't the easy answer to weight loss, but they can be a useful tool to help you make the necessary diet and lifestyle changes.
Benefits and side effects of using Weight Loss Drugs
Health effects of appetite suppressants may include: headache or dizziness, restlessness, tremors, nervousness or anxiety, insomnia, dry mouth, diarrhea or constipation. There have been cases of raised blood pressure, seizures, strokes and heart damage but these are rare events.
Side effects of lipase-inhibitors such as Xenical® include unpredictable and increased bowel movements. However, since all obesity drugs are subject to stringent testing prior to launch, and because (after approval) their health effects are carefully recorded by manufacturers and the FDA, side effects are typically well publicised.