Obesity has become epidemic in the United States. Cheap, caloric-dense foods and inactivity have caused many Americans to find themselves losing “The Battle of the Bulge.” Physicians use a tool called the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is based on a ratio of your height and weight, to define “overweight” and “obese.” A BMI of 25-30 defines “overweight” and over 30 defines “obese.” 1 in 3 Americans are classified as overweight and another 1 in 3 are classified as obese. Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease, fatty liver, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and cancer. Losing 5-10% of body weight can lower blood glucose levels, blood pressure readings and triglyceride levels. You can’t look at a magazine or watch T.V. without seeing multiple advertisements for fad diets and exercise programs or equipment. Adkins and Paleo diets can adversely affect cholesterol levels and the weight loss is difficult to maintain. Alas, as most of us come to realize, diet and exercise alone are not always enough to see tangible weight loss. Adding prescription medication to lifestyle modifications like diet and exercise causes people to lose more weight than diet and exercise alone. Prescription weight loss medications work by making you feel less hungry and full sooner.
What are the differences between OTC products and prescription weight loss medications?
There are multiple over-the-counter weight loss products. Some of these contain stimulants like caffeine, guarana and ephedra while others contain diuretics that only cause water loss. Prescription weight loss medications like buproprion, topiramate and naltrexone work on chemicals in the brain that decrease hunger and increase the feelings of satiety (fullness). Neither buproprion, topiramate or naltrexone contain stimulants, so you won’t feel jittery or “revved up.” Overall, these medications are safe and well-tolerated. Bupropiron should not be used in people with seizures, anorexia or bulimia. Naltrexone should not be used by people addicted to opioid analgesics or withdrawing from drug or alcohol abuse. Pregnant women should never use weight loss medication.
Will prescription weight loss medications take the place of diet and exercise?
Unfortunately, prescription weight loss medications do not take the place of a healthy diet and exercise. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Also, at least 2 days per week of muscle-strengthening activities should be performed. A low fat diet and portion control are integral to keeping weight under control.