Prescription Weight-Loss Drugs: Do They Really Help?

Are you struggling to lose weight? if you’re reading this, you probably are. You may have tried every diet there is and not had any success. Many people search for answers on how effective weight loss pills do so in a last ditch effort to get rid of the weight and regain their health. The discussion over whether prescription weight loss medication is effective is in high gear as different drugs are being introduced in the market. Below, we take a closer look at this weight loss option.

Do I Qualify for Weight-Loss Drugs?

There are instances where healthcare providers may suggest that a patient take prescription weight loss drugs. This is often when the patient hasn’t been able to lose weight through diet and exercise and has:

  • A BMI (body mass index) over 30 and is therefore considered obese
  • A BMI over 27 and has a serious medical condition linked to obesity e.g. high blood pressure or obesity

Your healthcare provider will consider your health challenges and other factors in determining whether or not to prescribe the drugs. You should not take the medication if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How Do They Work?

Long term prescription weight loss drugs (those that can be taken for more than 12 weeks) are designed to cause significant weight loss especially when they are combined with lifestyle changes. Many of these medications work by making the patient feel less hungry or feel fuller. However, some work by absorbing fat e.g. orlistat.

These drugs can cause some side effects. These include constipation, nausea and diarrhea. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about the risks involved with each drug before embarking on your journey.

The duration for taking the medication will depend on the impact of the drug on your body. If you haven’t had any side effects and are losing weight, your healthcare provider may suggest taking the drug long term. If you haven’t achieved a 5 percent reduction in body weight by 3 to 6 months, your healthcare provider may change your prescription.

It is also important to note that the medication can be expensive. Insurance companies often do not offer coverage for the medication. Just as with other medical interventions for weight loss, many people gain some or even all of the weight back when they stop taking the drugs. Therefore, lifestyle changes are still vital for keeping the weight off.

Approved Drugs

There are several weight loss pills that actually work and that have been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for long term use. These include:

  • Semaglutide (Wegovy, Ozempic)
  • Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
  • Bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave)
  • Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia)
  • Liraglutide (Saxenda)

The requirements for taking each drug above differ. In order to take any of the drugs, certain tests must be carried out to determine your current state of health.

The Bottom-Line

While these medications are effective for losing some weight, they do not provide a long term solution for achieving a healthy weight. Many people that begin this journey end up gaining weight when they stop taking these aides. They also experience various side-effects some of which can be serious. The long term effects of these medications are also not known.

If you want to achieve sustainable weight loss and health for the long term, it is best to make lifestyle changes. Integra Health and Wellness provides access to an effective weight loss program in Spokane Valley. Our program uses a holistic approach that will help you address the underlying issues that led to weight gain in the first place. We’ll guide you on your journey to a healthier and more fulfilled life.