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Are there drugs that can reduce obesity? – Part 1

Introduction to Obesity

• Obesity and overweight are common conditions.
• Obesity may be defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
• It is a medical condition in which excess body fat builds up to the extent that the health of the individual becomes affected.
• It is becoming increasingly common in both men and women especially in Western developed nations, including Australia and US.
• This exerts significant financial pressure on health care systems.
• Obesity is usually not caused by a single factor.

Fat absorption inhibitors Xenical and Meridia have been shown in studies to cause an average weight loss of between 5 and 22 pounds per year.
• Obesity is not just a cosmetic problem.
• It’s a health hazard.

Obesity has been linked to several serious medical conditions including:
• Heart disease and stroke
• High blood pressure
• Diabetes
• Cancer
• Gallbladder disease and gallstones.
• Osteoarthritis
• Gout
• Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea (when a person stops breathing for a short time during sleep) and asthma.

Obesity often requires long-term treatment to promote and sustain weight loss.
• As in other chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, long-term use of prescription medications may be appropriate.
• Most side effects of prescription medications for obesity are mild, serious complications have been reported.
• Keep in mind that these drugs are not a cure-all.
• The use of weight-loss medications should be combined with physical activity and improved diet.
• This is to lose and maintain weight successfully over the long term.

Using prescription drugs to treat obesity should be used as an option for the following individuals:
• People with a body mass index (BMI) > 30 with no obesity-related conditions.
• A person with a BMI of > 27 with two or more obesity-related conditions

What Prescription Medicines Are Used to Treat Obesity?

• Most available weight-loss medications are approved by the FDA is for short-term use.
• These can be used for a few weeks or months.
• Most available weight-loss medications are “appetite-suppressant” medications. These include:
– Didrex
– Tenuate
– Sanorex
– Mazanor
– Adipex-P
– Meridia
These medications generally come in the form of tablets or extended-release capsules.
• Appetite suppressants can be obtained by a doctor’s prescription or purchased over-the-counter.
• In the mid 1990s doctors also prescribed the popular appetite suppressant Redux or the combination of phentermine and fenfluramine, called “Phen-fen.”
• Fenfluramine (Pondimin) and Redux were withdrawn from the market in 1997 because they caused damage to heart valves.
• Phentermine is still available.
• Another type of prescription weight loss drug is a fat absorption inhibitor.
• Xenical is the only example of this type of treatment approved for use in the U.S.
• Xenical works by blocking about 30% of dietary fat from being absorbed.
• It is the most recently approved weight loss drug.
• Meridia and Xenical are the only weight-loss medications approved for longer-term use in obese people.

How Do Appetite Suppressants Work?

• Appetite suppressants promote weight loss by tricking the body into believing that it is not hungry.
• They decrease appetite by increasing serotonin or catecholamine.
• These are the two brain chemicals that affect mood and appetite.
• Appetite suppressants are not for everybody.

How Do Fat Absorption Inhibitors Work?

• Fat-absorption inhibitors work by preventing your body from breaking down and absorbing fat eaten with your meals.
• This un-absorbed fat is eliminated in bowel movements.

Alli Weight-Loss Aid Nutrition: Everyday Choices Eating Disorders and Obesity

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