Anti-Obesity Medications: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Anti-Obesity Medications: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Commonly called “appetite suppressants” or “weight-loss drugs,” anti-obesity medications are often part of a medical weight loss treatment plan. Commercials for the newest weight-loss drugs are all over TV and magazines, and other weight-loss medications have been in wide use since the 1970s. Each of the drugs commonly prescribed works a little differently and may be used in a slightly different way in the management of obesity.

Following are some questions I’m frequently asked about anti-obesity medications. If you have additional questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them either directly in the comments or in an upcoming post. Please note that I can’t provide medical advice regarding specific or hypothetical medical situations.

Will you prescribe an anti-obesity medication for me? How will you choose which medicine is right for me?
I prescribe medication on a case-by-case basis when it is appropriate for each patient. Having said that, most of my patients take an anti-obesity medication. Many also take medication that I prescribe for an underlying metabolic illness that may not have been diagnosed or treated with medication prior to coming to Emerald City Wellness.

Whether or not I prescribe medication and which medication depends on many factors, including other health conditions that may affect the safety of certain medications, other medications you take that may interact with the medications I prescribe, how you experience craving, and how your individual goals are being met or not.

Choosing the medication is done in partnership with you, the patient. Often it is obvious to me which medication might be the best decision, based on the above criteria, and I’ll strongly recommend a particular one as the safest and most effective choice. Other times the choice may not be as clear, and we spend a great deal of time talking about the pros and cons of many before landing on a choice of what to try first. In both situations, it’s not uncommon to change the medication or dose over time, just as would happen with any other disease.

Why do you prescribe anti-obesity medication? Isn’t that cheating?

Obesity is a disease and often when you have a disease, you take medication to help control it. No one calls it cheating when someone uses an inhaler to treat their asthma or takes medication to treat migraines. Many of the underlying conditions that contribute to obesity, such as insulin resistance and thyroid disorder, increase hunger and suppress satiety. Anti-obesity medications can help suppress cravings and help focus on conquering sugar addiction.

If I take medication, will I have to be as careful about what I eat?

An ideal anti-obesity medication allows you to make good choices about food while still eating. It’s a tool in the tool chest. You’ll still have to make significant dietary changes. In fact, one of the main reasons for anti-obesity medications is to help you resist cravings as you’re learning a new way of eating and kicking old habits.

What about the latest wonder drug I heard about on [insert favorite show, radio program, or magazine here]?

I only prescribe medication that is FDA-approved for treatment of obesity or FDA- approved for another condition and recommended for off-label treatment of obesity by the Obesity Medicine Association. The medications I prescribe are backed by scientific research that has been published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at medical conferences around the world.

There are many “wonder drugs” that come and go but most of them are backed only by anecdotal evidence or articles from pay-to-publish journals. Because I’m not knowledgeable of the science of these supplements or “medications,” I’ll generally decline to discuss them unless I’m aware of a safety issue related to the substance in question.