Weight Loss Medications for Medical Weight Loss

What is it?

Medications used in weight management are generally classified as either appetite suppressants or Lipase inhibitors. However Dr. Kerendian will use other medications if more appropriate for your situation.

Appetite suppressants

Most available weight-loss medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are appetite-suppressant medications. Appetite-suppressant medications promote weight loss by decreasing appetite or increasing the feeling of being full. These medications make you feel less hungry by increasing one or more brain chemicals that affect mood and appetite. Phentermine, Phendimetrazine, and sibutramine are the most commonly prescribed appetite-suppressants in the U.S.

NOTE: Amphetamines are a type of appetite suppressant. However, amphetamines are not recommended for use in the treatment of obesity due to their strong potential for abuse and dependence.

Lipase inhibitors

One drug works in a different way. Orlistat works by reducing the body’s ability to absorb dietary fat by about one third. It does this by blocking the enzyme lipase, which is responsible for breaking down dietary fat. When fat is not broken down, the body cannot absorb it, so fewer calories are taken in.

Do they work?

People respond differently to weight-loss medications, and some people experience more weight loss than others. Weight-loss medications lead to an average weight loss of 5 to 22 pounds more than what you might lose with non-drug obesity treatments. Some patients using medication lose more than 10 percent of their starting body weight. Maximum weight loss usually occurs within 6 months of starting medication treatment. Weight then tends to level off or increase during the remainder of treatment.

Over the short term, weight loss in individuals who are obese may reduce a number of health risks. Studies have found that weight loss with some medications improves blood pressure, blood cholesterol, triglycerides (fats), and insulin resistance (the body’s inability to use blood sugar). New research suggests that long-term use of weight-loss medications may help individuals keep off the weight they have lost. However, more studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of weight-loss medications on weight and health.

Weight-loss medications should always be combined with a program of healthy eating and regular physical activity.