There are some cases of obesity that appear to require the use of medications in order for the individual to experience weight loss. Still, these drugs are not eagerly dispensed by most physicians because the pharmaceutical management of weight is an evolving science. Perfection and predictability have not yet been achieved.
In fact, some of the "weight loss" drugs have even led to addiction.
The vast majority of drugs that have historically been used for the treatment of obesity have been removed from the marketplace because time and evidence uncovered risks that out-weighed any potential benefit. Significant adverse effects have included heart disease, hypertension, consequential alterations of mood, and even death.
Many of us remember the debacle in the mid-90's with a drug combination called "Fenphen" which took the American marketplace by storm. Within a mere two years after its introduction, it was shown that this drug caused problems with heart valves after as little as one month of treatment. Risky surgery was required in order to correct the problem.
As a result, most drugs currently prescribed are for short-term use only which of course limits their use in the management of obesity. Even so, important studies have indicated that even small weight loss (achieved by any means) significantly reduces the incidence and severity of chronic diseases resulting from obesity.
There are two major classifications of drugs that are currently used in the treatment of obesity: appetite suppressants and lipase (fat) inhibitors. The appetite suppressants subdue the appetite and thus aid the individual in resisting the temptation to overeat. Lipase inhibitors block enzymes that are needed to digest fat. (An obvious downside to the lipase inhibitors is frequent and often urgent passage of "oily" stools.)
Other types of drugs which may be dispensed to aid in weight loss are those which are actually designed for another purpose but have a collateral effect of weight loss. These would include antidepressants, anti-seizure agents, and medications used to treat diabetes. Their use for the treatment of obesity has not been sanctioned by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
Why in the world would you even consider taking an un-proven (and potentially risky) drug; when there is an absolutely safe, and correct way to lose weight naturally? You didn't gain those 10, 25, 50, 100, or more pounds overnight. Why would you believe that an un-tested drug will solve your problem in a day, or two? The fact is: some person, or company, is not telling you the whole truth; so they can take your money!
There are clearly pros and cons regarding the use of drugs in the treatment of obesity. Drugs are only advisable for cases of extreme obesity and those which have not been responsive to dietary and exercise approaches. So, if you haven't tried the correct diet, and exercise plan, AND, If your doctor agrees that you are a suitable candidate, the decision will rightly be left up to you. Consider the options carefully and best of luck to you in your decision.
Drugs and obesity! A risky proposition!
by Sue Bristol, R.N.
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