What are Weight Loss Drugs?
Many weight loss drugs and supplements promise successful results. But are they really effective? In this article, we look at prescription weight loss drugs and over-the-counter supplements and check whether they can actually help to lose weight.
Effectiveness of Weight Loss Drugs
You can’t expect to lose weight by simply staying in bed and popping these pills. These drugs can actually work only if you also reduce calories, practice healthy behavior and exercise regularly. Even then, do not expect drastic weight loss, but only a gradual and slow decline in weight up to around two pounds a week. However, health experts warn that these drugs may not be effective for everybody. They aver that medication can only work if combined with a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a sensible diet.
Types of Weight Loss Drugs
Unlike for conditions such as high blood pressure, there are few medications available to lose weight. These are of two types: prescription drugs and over-the-counter ones. Besides, there are also OTC dietary supplements. These drugs need to get FDA approval that they are effective and safe.
Prescription Weight Loss Drugs
These consist of three choices which are listed below:
- Xenical (orlistat)
This drug prevents fat absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. It is also available over-the-counter at half strength as Alli. In some people, side effects include gas, fatty stools, oily discharge and uncontrolled bowel movements, but it is generally safe for most people including cardiovascular patients. The above side effects usually occur if you take the drug with a high-fat diet. So, eat a low-fat diet to avoid the side effects. Since this drug can also block essential nutrients, take a multivitamin supplement daily to compensate for the loss, but ensure you take it at a different time and not along with the weight loss drug.
- Meridia (sibutramine)
This drug works on the area in the brain that controls appetite, thereby reducing hunger. Thus it is ideal for those who have excessive food cravings. Health experts say it is ideal for young patients who have low risk of heart ailments. Side effects include insomnia, constipation and dry mouth. It should be avoided by those who have higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. Users of Meridia should check their blood pressure regularly to stay on the safe side.
is generic and hence much less expensive and the most popular weight loss drug. It works by reducing appetite, hence it is ideal for those with high appetite. Patients without insurance coverage opt for it because it is inexpensive. Side effects are nervousness, irritability, high blood pressure, insomnia and depression.
OTC Weight Loss Supplements
These are different from the above weight loss drugs. Many supplements claim to increase metabolism and reduce appetite, but there is no evidence to back their claims and that they are effective and safe. Therefore, consult your doctor before buying these supplements.
Who Should Use Weight Loss Drugs
Not everybody should use these medications. Only if traditional methods fail, you should try them. Doctors prescribe these drugs only if you have a high Body Mass Index (BMI). The bottom line is there is no surefire guarantee they will help you lose weight even if you practice a healthy lifestyle to back them up.
To learn more about the effectiveness of weight loss drugs, please watch this video: