Weight Loss Using Medications and Prescriptions

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Overweight and obesity mean that a person weighs more than they should for their height. Doctors use something called the Body Mass Index (BMI) to figure out if someone is overweight or obese.

If a person’s BMI is between 25 and 30, they are considered to be overweight. If their BMI is 30 or more, they are considered to have obesity.

When such a diagnosis is made. One of the options on the table always is weight loss using medications and prescriptions.

Being overweight or obese can cause health problems. So, if you think you might be overweight or obese, it’s important to talk to a doctor. They can help you figure out if you need to lose weight and the best ways to do it.
A healthy eating plan and regular exercise can help you lose weight and keep it off. But sometimes, these things aren’t enough. In that case, a doctor might give you medicine to help you lose weight.

A huge number of people in the United States are overweight or obese. Over 4 in 10 adults are obese, and almost 1 in 10 have severe obesity.

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Manage your weight.

Weight management medications are medicines that can help people who have problems with being overweight or obese. These medications work in a lot of different ways.

For example, some can help you feel less hungry or full faster. Others can make it harder for your body to absorb fat from the foods you eat.

Of course the ones that make us feel less hungry may seem less desirable. Especially if you see yourself as a food lover.

Most all doctors may prescribe weight management medications to people who have health problems related to being overweight or obese.

They use something called the Body Mass Index (BMI) to decide whether someone might benefit from these medications.

If your BMI is 30.0 or higher and you have health problems like high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.

You might be a good candidate for these medications.

But weight management medications are not for everyone who is overweight or obese. Sometimes, people can lose weight by making changes to their eating habits and getting more exercise.

This kind of program can also ease stress, lack of sleep, and other factors causing you to gain weight.

Most weight management medications are only approved for adults.

However, there are a few that are approved for children 12 and older, and even one for children as young as 6 who have rare genetic disorders that cause obesity.

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Weight Management Medicine

According to the FDA two prescription medications, orlistat(Xenical) and liraglutide (Saxenda) are approved by the FDA for children from the age of 12 years up. A third prescription medication, setmelanotide (IMCIVREE) is the one that is approved by the FDA for children ages 6 years and older who have rare genetic disorders that cause obesity.

It’s important to remember that taking medication alone is not enough to lose weight. It’s still important for children and adults to exercise regularly and eat healthy foods. Studies show that weight management medications work best when combined with a healthy lifestyle program.

Can children or teenagers take weight management medications?

If you or your child is struggling with weight issues or if you think they ought to lose weight, talk to your doctor about what kind of lifestyle changes and medications might be helpful.

Together, you can come up with a plan that works best for you. Most medications have restrictions on age as they are usually tested in adults and safety data in children takes years to become available.

Can medications by my go-to instead of physical activity and healthy eating habits as a way to lose weight?

Taking medication alone is not enough to lose weight.

It’s still important to exercise regularly and eat healthy foods. Studies show that prescription weight management medications work best when combined with a lifestyle program. This includes changes to behavior, like healthy eating and more physical activity.

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What are the benefits of using prescription medications for weight loss?

People who take prescription weight management medications as part of a lifestyle program can lose 3% to 12% more of their starting body weight than people who only make lifestyle changes.

Some people may even lose 10% or more of their starting weight. Losing 5% to 10% of your starting weight can help improve your health in many ways, including lowering blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels. It can also improve joint pain and sleep apnea.

What are the concerns about using prescription medications to lose weight either wholly or in combination with other modalities?
Many experts are concerned that the side effects of weight management medications may outweigh the benefits in some cases. Possible side effects vary by medication, but most are mild and improve with continued use. Serious side effects are rare.

It’s important to never take weight management medications only to improve your appearance. In the past, some weight management medications were linked to serious health problems, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits before taking any medication.

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Medication Tips (general and specific for weight loss medicines)

  • Always follow your health care professional’s instructions about weight management medications.
  • Know the side effects and warnings before taking any medication.
  • Talk with your health care professional about any other medications you are taking, including supplements and vitamins, when considering weight management medications.
  • Only buy your medication from a pharmacy or online distributor approved by your health care professional.
  • Take weight management medication only to support your healthy eating and physical activity program.
  • If you are not losing weight after 12 weeks on the full dose of your medication, ask your health care professional whether you should stop taking it.
  • Never take weight management medications during pregnancy or if you are planning a pregnancy.

Choosing the right weight loss medication is important.

Here are considerations:

Choosing the right weight loss medicine can be a somewhat challenging task, especially since most people are not doctors or medically trained. Do you consider weight loss medications as a viable option if you’re struggling with being overweight or obese?

The most important factor is in the decision to use weight loss medication as it is one that should be made in consultation with your obesity or weight loss doctor. Their role is to evaluate your individual needs and provide guidance on which medication may be best for you.

At that discussion often times your past medical history, your general state of health and the potential side effects of medications are taken into consideration. However, rest assured the right doctor will always be able to recommend something that is not only appropriate for you, but also safe.

Another important factor to consider is the likely benefits of weight loss.

Positives include reducing your risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Also something that people seldom remember is that weight loss can improve your quality of life, increase your energy levels, and boost your self-confidence.

A person who is able to go out more, fit into more clothes, worry less about how they look and get around more easily is definitely enjoying a better quality of life in these areas than someone who is unable to due to weight issues or weight worries.

Other considerations of great importance are the possible side effects of the medication.

Some weight loss medications can cause minor to moderate side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and dry mouth.

Others may have more serious side effects that could be life-threatening, such as an increased risk of heart attack or stroke or even cancer of the thyroid with the newer drugs. Your obesity medicine doctors are usually able to discuss the potential side effects of these medications with you and help you decide if the benefits outweigh the risks through what they call “shared decision making”.

Previously diagnosed health issues and other medications that you are already taking should also be taken into consideration when choosing a weight loss medications. Some medications may not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions or those who are taking certain medications.

For example, some weight loss medications can interact with antidepressants or blood thinners, so it’s important to tell all of your current medications to your weight loss doctor. Not doing so can become a serious threat to your overall health and your life.

Your family’s medical history is another important factor to consider.

Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to obesity, and certain weight loss medications may be more effective for individuals with specific genetic traits.

Your obesity doctor can help you evaluate your family’s medical history and determine which medications may be best for you. These consultations go deep and as such ought to be taken seriously. It is the most essential part of any treatment and so do not go in unprepared.

Tell your doctor everything about your health so that you will benefit the most from the consultation and treatment.

The final and probably the most important aspect of weight loss treatment is the cost of the medications to be used.

Some weight loss medications may be covered by insurance, while others may not.

Additionally, the cost of the medication may vary depending on the dosage and frequency of use. Your weight loss doctor can help you evaluate the cost of the medication and determine whether it fits within your budget.

Also some weight loss doctors and clinics do not accept insurance for weight loss and so that can be a big issue for those that are not prepared to pay out of pocket for care.

I bet by now anyone reading this wants to know how long they’ll need to take weight management medication?

Well, it depends on whether the drug actually helps you lose weight and keep it off without any adverse side effects.
If you’ve shed enough pounds to improve your health and aren’t experiencing any major side effects, your your weight loss doctor may suggest you keep taking the medication indefinitely. However, if you haven’t lost at least 5% of your starting weight after 12 weeks on the full dose of your medication, it might be time to say “peace out” to that particular drug.

But don’t worry, your healthcare provider can still help you find the right fit by:

  • Changing your treatment plan or trying a different weight management medication
  • Having you experiment with different lifestyle, physical activity, or eating programs is another trick in the can with many experienced weight loss doctors.
  • Adjusting your other medications that might be causing weight gain
  • Referring you to a bariatric surgeon to see if weight-loss (bariatric) surgery is the right option for you.

Now, listen up, because here’s the real deal. Obesity is a chronic disease, and you might need to keep up your new eating and physical activity habits and other behaviors for years—or even the rest of your life—to improve your health and maintain a healthier weight. But don’t stress! You got this!

Are you worried about gaining back all the weight you lost after stopping weight management medication?

Well, it’s understandable to have concerns about regaining some weight, but there are ways to minimize the chances of that happening.

Firstly, it’s important to develop and maintain healthy eating habits. This means focusing on nutrient-dense foods and avoiding highly processed or calorie-dense foods. Instead, choose whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.

These foods will keep you feeling fuller for longer and help you avoid snacking on unhealthy options.

In addition to a healthy diet, increasing physical activity can also help prevent or at least delay weight regain.

According to federal physical activity guidelines, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, along with at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities. But if you’re looking to maintain weight loss, you may need to aim for more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. That is gonna be easier once you have lost some pounds so do not fret.

Most people feel lighter and are able to exercise more once they have commenced their weight loss journey.It’s important to note that weight regain is normal after stopping weight management medication.

Change your lifestyle.

However, by continuing to follow a healthy lifestyle, you can minimize the amount of weight you regain and maintain a healthier weight long-term. Remember, small changes in your diet and exercise habits can add up to big results over time.

Let’s talk about how health care professionals can use some prescription medications in ways that the FDA might not have officially approved. It’s called “off-label” use, and it can be pretty interesting!
Basically, your health care professional might prescribe a medication that’s typically used for something else entirely, or they might have you take multiple medications at the same time. They could even have you take a medication for longer than the FDA officially recommends!

But don’t worry, you can totally ask your health care professional about it. Just make sure you get all the info you need before starting on any new medications. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something new and surprising about your health care routine!

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