An Overview of the Most Popular Prescription Weight Loss Medication

By  //  October 10, 2021

Obesity is a health risk to any individual, and hence a health care professional may have to prescribe drugs to help with losing weight. There are many reasons people become obese or overweight, but the leading factor is rooted in the person’s lifestyle, which includes unhealthy eating and exercise habits.

Prescription drugs are not a substitute for exercising and eating healthily but are merely a supplement for weight loss. Read on to learn more about prescription drugs.

What Are Weight Loss Medications And Why Are They Used

Weight-loss medications are FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved drugs described by a doctor. The recipients of this medication are individuals who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 and above. The BMI scale classifies these people as overweight (25-29) and obese (30 and above).

Weight-loss drugs help reduce a person’s weight by making them feel full faster, reduce their eating by suppressing their appetite, or prevent the body from absorbing fat from food intake.

These drugs facilitate the weight loss process when coupled with a proper diet which a doctor would place the patient on either personally or by directing them to a dietitian. The Doctor will also plan an exercise regime to get the best possible results. 

Difference Between Weight Loss Medication And Supplement

FDA-approved drugs for losing weight differ from supplements that assist with losing those extra pounds. Supplements for weight loss are not drugs. 

Since the FDA does not test for effectiveness and safety, supplements aren’t subject to the same rigor as weight reduction drugs. This doesn’t mean they aren’t safe to use, as many top weight loss supplements have proven track records and will clearly indicate any of the side effects you may experience on their package. These effects are typical of all weight management medicine, even the FDA-approved ones.

Supplements are suitable for belly reduction and gaining toned thighs. Take supplements in addition to exercising and dieting to get the best results. Supplements can work magic, but they aren’t magic pills.

When is it Right To Go For Weight Loss Drugs?

The time is ideal when you find it difficult to lose weight through traditional means or have weight-related problems like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. In all honesty, having a discussion with your specialist is the best approach, but resorting to weight loss drugs shouldn’t be the first option for you. 

There are a lot of good supplements, available for men and women, that can also help with slimming down. If you are overweight as a man and need to improve your lifestyle, you can do that without these medications.

If you find yourself struggling, getting a supplement that acts as a belly fat burner for men is a great option. Women are not left out of it, as there is a thriving supplement market for them too. The choice is yours in the end unless it is that you suffer from a medical condition that sees slimming down drugs as your only choice. Discuss with your healthcare professional what the best approach for you is.

Popular Weight Loss Prescription

There are a few FDA-approved drugs, and we will discuss them in this section.

 Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)

Orlistat is one of the few prescription drugs approved for children aged 12 years and up. It helps with weight management by limiting the amount of fat your body can absorb from food eaten. The frequent side effects are diarrhea, gas, stomach pain, and excretion of oily stool.

There is a non-prescription version called Alli. Its dosage is lighter and can be bought off the shelf.

 Phentermine-Topiramate (Qsymia)

Qsymia is approved for adults and is a combination of two drugs. The first one is phentermine, which helps reduce appetite and the second is topiramate for treating headaches and seizures. The combination of both makes you hungry less often and feel full faster. Some of the side effects are dizziness, constipation, trouble sleeping, and tingling feelings in the hands and legs.

 Naltrexone-Bupropion (Contrave)

This drug is another mix of two drugs, namely naltrexone, which helps with withdrawal symptoms from drugs and alcohol, and bupropion used to help people with depression. Bupropion can help smokers who are looking to quit smoking. Both compounds help to reduce hunger in the patient. Some of the side effects are higher heart rate, increased blood pressure, vomiting, dizziness, headache, dry mouth, and liver damage. This drug is approved only for adults.

 Liraglutide (Saxenda)

Saxenda is the second drug approved for children ages 12 and above by the FDA. Unlike the others that use pills, they inject Saxenda into the patient every day. Saxenda copies a hormone called glucagon and targets areas of the brain that regulates the intake of food. At a lower dosage, FDA approved the drug Victoza to treat type 2 diabetes. Some of the side effects are nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and headache.

 Setmelanotide (Lmcivree) 

The FDA approves this drug for children ages 6 and above. They are only administered to people with specific genetic conditions and only given through injections. Imcivree stimulates the body to break down more calories and also helps to control the urge to eat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t heal genetic defeat. The side effects are depression and suicidal thoughts, difficulty getting aroused, and skin darkening. 

Warnings And Precautions To Take While Using Weight Management Drugs

While some weight management drugs are very effective, there are also conditions you should look out for before and while taking the medication. 

 Take multivitamin pills when using Orlistat (Xenical, Alli) to supplement lost vitamins. 

 Don’t use it if you’re pregnant or plan on getting pregnant anytime soon. If you do, it may lead to a birth defect. 

 Don’t use it while breastfeeding a baby.

 Avoid them if you have a history of high blood pressure or seizures.

 Avoid use if dependent on opioids or withdrawing from smoking or alcohol.

Prescription weight management medications are effective when combined with exercising and a proper diet. They are potent drugs and so must be taken according to the prescribed quantity judiciously.

If, after 12 weeks of using the medicine, there is no significant improvement in weight, see your specialist for guidance. Your health care professional may have to stop you, change the drugs, or recommend alternatives.