Understanding New Medication Treatments for Obesity Care

Obesity is a chronic, progressive disease associated with multiple complications and co-morbidities, like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and some forms of cancer.

Because the disease of obesity is complex, we use multiple weight management treatments that work well together.

Effective obesity care management begins with lifestyle modification (healthy eating patterns, increased physical activity and psycho-behavioral modification) for everyone as this is needed for optimal health.

For select patients where lifestyle management is not effective enough to achieve weight loss and improved health, medications or bariatric surgery can also be considered.

You may wonder how the new anti-obesity medications work as a treatment for obesity care.

Anti-obesity medications alter one’s appetite which allows individuals to better follow a healthy diet, without feeling deprived.

More specifically, these medications can decrease hunger, increase fullness, decrease food cravings as well as the sensory pleasures associated with eating.

If you’re considering talking to your health care professional about going on one of these medications, it’s important to know the following:

1-Anti-Obesity Medications are Not for Everyone

The new anti-obesity medications address the underlying biological dysfunction of those suffering with the chronic disease of obesity.

They are not indicated for individuals wanting to shed just a few pounds or fit into smaller jeans.

As with most chronic diseases, medication treatments are not considered to be a short-term approach, taken for just a few weeks or months.

2-Anti-Obesity Medications Do Not Replace a Healthy Lifestyle

Instead, these medications make it easier to follow healthier dietary patterns while also improving one’s relationship with food.

Many patients say they have less “food noise” which means they think less about food and are more satisfied consuming smaller portions.

Because the increased weight loss can also cause muscle loss, more emphasis needs to be put on both aerobic exercise and resistance training to preserve muscle mass.

3-The Goal of Treatment is Improved Health

The goal of treatment is improved health, health outcomes and quality of life, not solely weight loss.

Since the newer generation of medications are more effective for weight loss, it is important to focus on additional benefits that accrue, such as more vitality, improved self-esteem, taking less medications for high blood pressure or diabetes, improved metabolic and heart health, less joint pain or stiffness and a better mood.


Robert Kushner, MD

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