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FAQs, Questions About Weight-Loss Medications

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Q: I only need to lose 10 pounds.
Are weight-loss medications appropriate for me?

A: Weight-loss medications may be appropriate for carefully selected patients who are at significant medical risk because of their obesity. They are not recommended for use by people who are only mildly overweight unless they have health problems that are made worse by their weight. These medications should not be used only to improve appearance.

Q: Can medications replace physical activity or changes in eating habits as a way to lose weight?

A: No. The use of weight-loss medications to treat obesity should be combined with physical activity and improved diet to lose and maintain weight successfully over the long term.

Q: Will I regain some weight after I stop taking weight-loss medications?

A: Probably. Most studies show that the majority of patients who stop taking weight-loss medications regain the weight they had lost. Maintaining healthy eating and physical activity habits will increase your likelihood of keeping weight off.

Q: How long will I need to take weight-loss medications to treat obesity?

A: The answer depends upon whether the medication helps you to lose and maintain weight and whether you have any side effects. Because obesity is a chronic disease, any treatment, whether drug or nondrug, may need to be continued for years, and perhaps a lifetime, to improve health and maintain a healthy weight. There is little information on how safe and effective weight-loss medications are for many years of use.

See also: Obesity & Drug Treatment for Weight Loss

Q: What dosage of weight-loss medication is right for me?

A: There is no one correct dose for weight loss medications. Your doctor will decide what works best for you based on his or her evaluation of your medical condition and response to treatment.

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Questions to Raise with Your Doctor
BEFORE Choosing Weight-Loss Drugs

Before choosing weight-loss medications for the long-term management of obesity, you should talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have. In addition, it is important that you discuss the following issues with your doctor.

Q. What type of program will be provided along with the medication to help me improve my eating and physical activity habits?

Studies show that weight-loss medications work best when combined with a weight-management program that helps you improve your eating and physical activity habits. Ask your doctor any questions or concerns that you may have about good nutrition and physical activity.

Q. How will I be evaluated to determine if I am an appropriate candidate for weight-loss medication?

Your physician will look at a number of factors to determine if you are a good candidate for prescription weight-loss medication. He or she will determine how overweight you are and where your body fat is distributed. Your doctor may do the following:

  • Take a careful medical history and perform a physical examination.
  • Look at your personal weight history.
  • Ask whether you have relatives with illnesses related to overweight, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus or heart disease.
  • Discuss the methods you have used to lose weight in the past.
  • Evaluate your risk for obesity-related health problems by measuring your blood pressure and doing blood tests.

Existing Medical Conditions and Weight Loss Drugs

It is important that you notify your physician if you have any of the following medical conditions:

  • Pregnancy or breast-feeding
  • History of drug or alcohol abuse
  • History of an eating disorder
  • History of depression or manic depressive disorder
  • Use of monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors or antidepressant medications
  • Migraine headaches requiring medication
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease or heart condition, such as an irregular heart beat
  • High blood pressure
  • Planning to have surgery that requires general anesthesia

When Your Doctor Recommends Prescription Weight Loss Medications to Reduce Medical Risks of Obesity

If your doctor determines that you have obesity-related health problems or are at high risk for such problems, and if you have been unable to lose weight or maintain weight loss with non-drug treatment, he or she may recommend that you use prescription weight-loss medications. Weight-loss medications may be appropriate for carefully selected patients who are at significant medical risk because of their obesity. They are not recommended for people who are only mildly overweight unless they have health problems that are made worse by their weight. These medications should not be used only to improve appearance.

Sources: Weight Control Information Network (WIN). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

 

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