What are overweight and obesity?
Doctors use the Body Mass Index (BMI) to describe overweight and obesity. People who have a BMI between 25 and 30 fall into overweight category. Obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or greater.
Doctors who can prescribe medication for obesity
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of health problems. If you are struggling with your weight, a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity may help you lose weight and keep it off over the long term. If these lifestyle changes are not enough to help you lose weight or maintain your weight loss, doctors specializing in obesity medicine can prescribe medications as part of your weight-control program. Most of the weight management medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration External link (FDA) for adults and few medications for children above 12 years of age.
Prescription medications to treat overweight and obesity work in different ways. For example, some medications may help you feel less hungry or full sooner. Other medications may make it harder for your body to absorb fat from the foods you eat.
Who might benefit from weight management medications?
Weight management medications are meant to help people who have health problems related to overweight or obesity. There are many health risks for overweight and obesity which include Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high lipids, stroke, sleep apnea, metabolic syndrome, renal problems and above all psychiatric/social problems.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. About 8 out of 10 people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or have obesity.8 Over time, high blood glucose leads to problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, nerve damage, and other health problems.
If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight and getting regular physical activity may prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a condition in which blood flows through your blood vessels with a force greater than normal. High blood pressure can strain your heart, damage blood vessels, and raise your risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and death.
Overweight and obesity may raise your risk for certain health problems such as high blood pressure.
Heart disease is a term used to describe several problems that may affect your heart. If you have heart disease, you may have a heart attack, heart failure, sudden cardiac death, angina NIH external link, or an abnormal heart rhythm. High blood pressure, abnormal levels of blood fats, and high blood glucose levels may raise your risk for heart disease. Blood fats, also called blood lipids, include HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Losing 5 to 10 percent of your weight may lower your risk factors for developing heart disease. If you weigh 200 pounds, this means losing as little as 10 pounds. Weight loss may improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood flow.
Stroke is a condition in which the blood supply to your brain is suddenly cut off, caused by a blockage or the bursting of a blood vessel in your brain or neck. A stroke can damage brain tissue and make you unable to speak or move parts of your body. High blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes.
Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you do not breathe regularly while sleeping. You may stop breathing altogether for short periods of time. Untreated sleep apnea may raise your risk of other health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that put you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. These conditions are
- high blood pressure
- high blood glucose levels
- high triglyceride levels in your blood
- low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) in your blood
- too much fat around your waist
Fatty liver diseases
Fatty liver diseases are conditions in which fat builds up in your liver. Fatty liver diseases include nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Fatty liver diseases may lead to severe liver damage, cirrhosis, or even liver failure.
Osteoarthritis is a common, long-lasting health problem that causes pain, swelling, and reduced motion in your joints. Being overweight or having obesity may raise your risk of getting osteoarthritis by putting extra pressure on your joints and cartilage.
Overweight and obesity may raise your risk of getting gallbladder diseases, such as gallstones and cholecystitis. Imbalances in substances that make up bile cause gallstones. Gallstones may form if bile contains too much cholesterol.
Cancer NIH external link is a collection of related diseases. In all types of cancer, some of the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues. Overweight and obesity may raise your risk of developing certain types of cancer NIH external link.
Kidney disease means that your kidneys are damaged and can’t filter blood like they should. Obesity raises the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, the most common causes of kidney disease. Even if you don’t have diabetes or high blood pressure, obesity itself may promote kidney disease and quicken its progress.
Overweight and obesity raise the risk of health problems that may occur during pregnancy. Pregnant women who are overweight or obese may have a greater chance of
- developing gestational diabetes
- having preeclampsia—high blood pressure during pregnancy, which can cause severe health problems for mother and baby if left untreated
- needing a cesarean sectionNIH external link, or C-section and, as a result, taking longer to recover after giving birth
What emotional and social problems are linked to overweight and obesity?
Overweight and obesity are associated with mental health problems such as depression NIH external link. People who deal with overweight and obesity may also be the subject of weight bias and stigma from others, including health care providers. This can lead to feelings of rejection, shame, or guilt—further worsening mental health problems.
Can medications replace physical activity and healthy eating habits as a way to lose weight?
Medications don’t replace physical activity or healthy eating habits as a way to lose weight. Studies show that weight management medications work best when combined with a lifestyle program. Ask your health care professional about lifestyle treatment programs for weight management that will work for you.
What are the benefits of using prescription medications to lose weight?
When combined with changes to behavior, including healthy eating and increased physical activity, prescription medications help some people lose weight and maintain weight loss. On average, after 1 year, people who take prescription medications as part of a lifestyle program lose 3% to 12% more of their starting body weight than people in a lifestyle program who do not take medication.
Research shows that some people taking prescription weight management medications lose 10% or more of their starting weight.5,6 Results vary by medication and by person.
Weight loss of 5% to 10% of your starting body weight may help improve your health by lowering blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels. Losing weight also can improve some other health problems related to overweight and obesity, such as joint pain and sleep apnea. Most weight loss takes place within the first 6 months of starting the medication.
Tips for taking weight management medication
- Follow your doctor’s instructions about weight management medications.
- Buy your medication from a pharmacy or online distributor approved by your health care professional.
- Only take weight management medication to support your healthy eating and physical activity program.
- Know the side effects and warnings before taking any medication.
- 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.
- Talk with your health care professional about any other medications you are taking, including supplements and vitamins, when considering weight management medications.
- Never take weight management medications during pregnancy or if you are planning a pregnancy.
Which weight management medication might work for me?
Choosing a medication to treat overweight or obesity is a decision between you and your health care professional. Important factors to consider include
- the likely benefits of weight loss
- the medication’s possible side effects
- your current health issues and other medications
- your family’s medical history
How long will I need to take weight management medication?
How long you will need to take weight management medication depends on whether the drug helps you lose weight and keep it off and whether you experience serious side effects.
If you have lost enough weight to improve your health and are not experiencing serious side effects, your health care professional may advise you to stay on the medication indefinitely. If you do not lose at least 5% of your starting weight after 12 weeks on the full dose of your medication, your health care professional will probably advise you to stop taking it. Your health care professional may also
- change your treatment plan or consider using a different weight management medication
- have you try different lifestyle, physical activity, or eating programs
- change your other medications that might be causing weight gain
- refer you to a bariatric surgeon to see if weight-loss (bariatric) surgery might be an option for you
Because obesity is a chronic disease, you may need to continue your new eating and physical activity habits and other behaviors for years—or even a lifetime—to improve your health and maintain a healthier weight.
Will insurance cover the cost of weight management medication?
Some, but not all, insurance plans cover medications that treat overweight and obesity. Contact your insurance provider to find out if your plan covers these medications.
Most common prescription medications prescribed by doctors who are specialized to treat overweight and obesity-
How do health care professionals use prescription medications “off-label” to treat overweight and obesity?
Sometimes Weight loss specialized doctors use medications in a way that’s different from what the FDA has approved. That’s called “off-label” use. By choosing an off-label medication to treat overweight and obesity, your health care professional may prescribe
- a drug approved for treating a different medical problem
- two or more drugs at the same time
- a drug for a longer time period than approved by the FDA
You should feel comfortable asking whether your health care professional is prescribing a medication that is not approved for treating overweight and obesity. Before using a medication, learn all you need to know about it.
What other medications for weight loss may be available in the future?
Researchers are currently studying several new medications and combinations of medications in animals and people. Researchers are working to identify safer and more effective medications to help people who are overweight or have obesity lose weight and maintain a healthy weight for a long time.
Future drugs may use new strategies, such as
- regulating several gut hormonesat the same time
- targeting specific genesthat cause obesity
- allowing people to lose body fat without losing muscle during weight loss
- changing bacteriain the gut to control weight
Customized meal plan for weight loss:
There are dietary plans followed by the doctors, which are customized based on the patient’s health conditions. A patient with renal disease can not have much protein in their diet on the other hand diet with less carbohydrate is preferred for diabetic patients. A doctor who is specialized in obesity medicine would calculate your total calory need and will customize the diet and nutrients as per your requirement.
Who gets benefitted from weight loss doctors?
- Patients with Diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Cardiac patients
- Patients with renal disease
- Hypertension and High cholesterol
- Pregnancy issue
- Weight loss before surgery – Bariatric or cosmetic surgery
- Psychiatric issues
- Overweight and obese individual