Are you an adult grappling with serious health issues due to your weight? Have you tried the traditional duo of diet and exercise, only to find yourself at a standstill in your weight loss journey? If this resonates with you, then exploring the world of prescription weight-loss medication might be your next strategic move.
Understanding Prescription Weight-Loss Medication
Prescription drugs, distinctly different from over-the-counter medications, require a healthcare provider’s endorsement. They are not items you can casually pick up from a pharmacy shelf; they demand a doctor’s insight and prescription.
Integrating Medication with Lifestyle
It’s crucial to understand that these medications are not standalone solutions. They are most effective when used in tandem with a consistent, healthy diet and regular exercise.
Eligibility for Weight-Loss Medication
Your healthcare provider may suggest a weight-loss drug if:
- Your Body Mass Index (BMI) exceeds 30, indicating obesity.
- Your BMI is over 27 and you’re experiencing severe health issues related to obesity, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
These suggestions come after a thorough evaluation of your health history and present conditions, weighing the benefits and risks of such medications.
Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution
Weight-loss medications are not suitable for everyone. They are not recommended if you are pregnant, trying to conceive, or breastfeeding.
Efficacy of Weight-Loss Drugs
When used long-term (beyond 12 weeks), these drugs significantly outperform placebos. The synergy of medication and lifestyle changes often leads to more substantial weight loss than lifestyle alterations alone. Even a 5% to 10% reduction in total body weight can yield meaningful health benefits, like reduced blood pressure and improved blood sugar levels.
Side effects, ranging from mild (nausea, constipation) to severe, are possible. Discussing all treatment options and their potential risks and benefits with your healthcare provider is crucial. Additionally, consider the cost and insurance coverage, as these drugs can be expensive.
Duration of Treatment
The length of time you’ll be on a weight-loss drug hinges on its effectiveness and your ability to tolerate it. Your healthcare provider will reassess your treatment if you don’t lose at least 5% of your body weight after 3 to 6 months on the full dose.
FDA-Approved Weight-Loss Drugs
The U.S. FDA has approved six drugs for long-term use:
- Bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave)
- Liraglutide (Saxenda)
- Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
- Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia)
- Semaglutide (Wegovy)
- Setmelanotide (Imcivree)
These drugs primarily work by reducing hunger or increasing feelings of fullness, except for Orlistat, which affects fat absorption.
The Bottom Line
Weight-loss drugs are not a silver bullet, but they can be a valuable component in your journey towards better health and weight management, especially when combined with lifestyle changes.