A LOOK AT WEIGHT-LOSS MEDICATIONS

For most people, losing weight is a challenge that requires them to make lifestyle changes. They must focus on diet and exercise, reducing caloric intake while increasing physical activity. It is best to follow a low-carbohydrate diet that emphasizes eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and eschews sugar and processed foods.  However, for many people, no matter what they do, the weight just doesn’t drop off as they hope. They need a little more help in the form of medications specifically designed to stave off obesity.

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A LOOK AT WEIGHT-LOSS MEDICATIONS

For most people, losing weight is a challenge that requires them to make lifestyle changes. They must focus on diet and exercise, reducing caloric intake while increasing physical activity. It is best to follow a low-carbohydrate diet that emphasizes eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and eschews sugar and processed foods.


However, for many people, no matter what they do, the weight just doesn’t drop off as they hope. They need a little more help in the form of medications specifically designed to stave off obesity.


One such drug is Qsymia, which is often prescribed for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters. A person with a BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight, while a BMI of 30 or more indicates obesity. Qsymia has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It contains topiramate and phentermine, which help you eat less by reducing your appetite and making you feel more satisfied.


Another weight-loss drug, Contrave, is believed to work on two areas of the brain – the hunger center and the reward system – to reduce hunger and help control cravings. Contrave contains bupropion and naltrexone. The former is usually prescribed for depression and smoking

cessation, while the latter is used to combat alcohol and opioid dependence. People who take Contrave start out by taking one tablet once a day and gradually work up to taking two tablets twice a day at four weeks. In one study, patients taking Contrave lost approximately two to four times more weight than they did with diet and exercise alone.


Belviq is another FDA-approved drug that can be used in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and increased exercise to help patients lose weight. In a major clinical trial, people taking 10 milligrams of Belviq twice daily were able to lose weight and maintain their weight loss for two years. The drug also seems to improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels.


Obesity is not only caused by lifestyle choices. Factors patients can’t control, such as their metabolism, hormones and genetics, also play a part. People taking Saxenda follow a progressive four-week dose escalation, beginning at 0.6 milligrams and working up to the full 3-milligram dose. This dose escalation was designed to reduce the possibility of developing gastrointestinal symptoms. Saxenda is administered once daily by subcutaneously injecting it into the

abdomen, thigh or upper arm. As with the other medications, patients must stick to a reduced-calorie diet and increase their physical activity to see results.


Obesity puts you at risk for a long list of health complications, including high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. If you believe one of these medications will help you, research each one carefully, noting its side effects, contraindications and other precautions. Discuss with your primary care physician whether you are a viable candidate for taking one of these weight-loss aids.

DR. DIANA C. HAYSLIP

Dr. Hayslip is a native of Ohio. She joined Family Practice Associates of Lexington in 2007. Dr. Hayslip’s goal as your family physician is to “help you feel better and stay healthy.”

more articles by Dr. Diana C. Hayslip