Being overweight is due to multiple factors that are not your fault or something you can will away.
Biological underpinnings exist for why you weigh what you do and why it’s hard to lose weight and keep it off.
Although lifestyle modification (that involves eating healthier, getting in more physical activity, coping better with stress and changing your mindset) is foundational for weight management, for some people, more help is needed.
Just as lifestyle modification alone is not always enough to manage diabetes or high blood pressure, it’s also not always enough to manage your weight.
The right medication can enhance the benefits you get from lifestyle modification to manage chronic conditions, like being overweight or having the disease of obesity.
How do weight loss medications work?
Most work to control appetite, affect feelings of hunger, fullness and contentment between meals while diminishing cravings and thoughts of food.
Once hunger is better controlled, it becomes easier to follow a lower calorie diet and adopt healthier lifestyle habits.
To be eligible for weight loss medications, your body mass index (BMI) must be ≥ 30 or ≥27 when associated with another medical condition, such as diabetes, hypertension, reflux or arthritis. You can calculate your BMI here.
In addition to calculating your BMI, clinicians make another assessment as to whether or not lifestyle modification has been effective enough to help you lose weight and keep it off.
Appetite controlling medications may be particularly helpful for those who have feelings of uncontrolled hunger and cravings and are tempted by the foods around them.
How to find out more?
First, I recommend you talk to your primary care provider to see if he or she thinks you are a candidate and don’t have any contraindications which may include an underlying medical condition, interference with other drugs you are taking, or a higher susceptibility to the drug’s side effects.
Because some health care providers don’t have as much experience prescribing these FDA-approved medications that include Saxenda®, Qsymia®, Contrave® or phentermine, I recommend you educate yourself by viewing their websites.
Another good resource for trustworthy information is the Obesity Action Coalition where you can search the website for articles on weight loss medications.
A new area of specialization for physicians that you may also find helpful are Obesity Medicine Physicians who have passed a certification exam and have advanced expertise in comprehensive obesity care.
These physicians are experts in helping people manage their weight and the disease of obesity and are familiar with weight loss medications and how to use them.
You can search to find an obesity medicine physician in your area here at the American Board of Obesity Medicine.
Have more questions? Feel free to ask me a question by visiting the contact page on my website.
Stay safe and be well!
Robert Kushner, MD