Weight Loss Medications: Should I or shouldnít I?
When are weight loss
Whether weight loss
medications should be used for the treatment of obesity is a decision that must
be made on a case-by-case basis. In most circumstances however, weight-loss
medication should be used only by people who are obese, in other words those
with a body mass index (BMI) that is greater than 30 or who have a BMI greater
than 27, which is also accompanied by serious medical conditions that could be
improved by quick weight loss.
Weight loss medications are
most effectively used when combined with diet, exercise and behavioral
modification. There are several classes of prescription medications that are
sometimes used to treat obesity.
There are some weight loss medications that enhance
both serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain such as sibutramine (Meridia).
This weight loss medication promotes feelings of satiation and thus reduces the
appetite. Meridia can increase blood pressure, so you should have your
blood pressure monitored regularly by your physician when taking this drug.
Another powerful weight loss medication is Orlistat (Xenical),
which blocks the intestinal absorption of about 30% of dietary fat. This
medication is referred to as a lipase inhibitor. These medications have
significant side effects such as oily anal leakage, explosive diarrhea and
cramping, which tend to be worse when individuals eat greater quantities of
fatty foods. Fortunately, this discourages the consumption of these foods and
contributes to the effectiveness of this drug.
These drugs include benzphetamine (Didrex), diethylproprion (Tenuate), mazindol
(Mazanor, Sanorex), and
which are known to increase the level of norepinephrine in the brain. The
neurotransmitter norepinephrine, reduces appetite by stimulating the central
nervous system. However, tolerance of these drugs may develop after several
weeks which then causes a slowing in the rate of weight loss. These weight-loss
medications also have serious side effects which include rapid heartbeat and
high blood pressure.
Although these drugs have
not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as weight loss
medications, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIís) such as fluoxetine
have been known to contribute to weight loss among patients who take them for
depression. Usually these drugs are prescribed for weight loss when patients
are also depressed. Patients taking SSRIís have reported feeling less hungry,
less concerned with food and better able control their appetites: However, the
effects frequently do not last very long and side effects of insomnia and
fatigue are frequently reported.
You should always bear in mind that unless you adopt and
maintain an appropriate lifestyle, weight loss medications are usually not
effectively used to maintain weight loss over a long period of time. Frequently,
people fail to maintain the lost weight as soon as they stop taking the weight
From The Johns Hopkins Medical Guide to Health After 50
Additional Information and
Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate
(Health and Geriatric Psychologist)
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