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New Medications Mean New Hope for Weight Loss

New Medications Mean New Hope for Weight Loss

Losing weight is something that can have a huge impact on health as well as quality of life. At this point, over 40% of Americans are obese. For some, obesity is inconvenient, but for others, it is a legitimate threat. People who are obese will have higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, pain from arthritis, gasrtic reflux, hypertension, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease and many more medical conditions that both shorten life as well as affect quality of life. In today’s world of quick fixes and fast food, American have struggled to maintain healthy weight. The rate of obesity is sharply increasing over the last 20 years.

There is no substitue for eating a healthy diet. Weight loss absolutely requires dietary changes. It is clear that there is not one magic diet, though. The best diet is the one that works for a patient. It is important to follow a specific plan though. Many times, people are really trying hard to get weight off and just seem to struggle. Sometimes this is  due to not followinng a specific plan. Sometimes it is due to a lack of knowledge of the right plan. It is confusing. There are so many diets out there and so many different ideas about how to do it correctly. The bottom line , though, is that it is really important to pick a plan and follow it. There is no winging it. Just “eating less” or “eating more vegetable”s isn’t going to be successful. Those who weigh frequently and follow a plan are the ones who will see success. While exercise is helpful, just exercising more won’t equal weight loss either.

It can really be disheartening to be giving good effort and seeing minimal results where weight loss is concerned. There are several weight loss medications that have been used over the years, and many of these are minimally effective or have significant side effects. However, in the last few years there have been some exciting new medications that seem to be more effective than any before. This has completely changed the weight loss world and it is great news for the health and wellness of Americans.

The newer medications avaialbe are in a class called GLP-1 (glucagon like peptide-1) agonists. There are two medication in this class that are specifically marketed for weight loss and several others that are used for diabetes but also help with weight loss. GLP-1 is a protein that the body normally makes when a meal is eaten. This protein helps to send a message to the brain that we are full. In addition, GLP-1 also helps food to stay in the stomach land digest more slowly, making people feel full for longer. This class of medication makes it so much easier for patients to eat less and also to make better decisions about what to eat. Not only are these medications excellent for weight loss, but they offer huge benefits for diabetics. They are now recommended as a second line agents right behind the inexpensive and common medication metformin.

The newest medication that offers great promise is a GIP/GLP-1 agonist. There is only one medication in this class but it has excellent results for weight loss in diabetics–over 10% of body weight according to product information from the drug company. This medication impacts GLP-1 as well as GIP (galucose dependent insulinotropic polypeptide). Having an effect on both proteins increases the amout of weight patients lose and this class has great promise even though it is new to the market.

Of course, all medications have side effects. The main side offect of GLP-1 medications is nausea. This is overcome by starting at a low dose and gradually increasing the dose. Not everyone can tolerate these medications, but most people can. These medications need to be used with caution in some patients and they are not for everyone, but a majority of people not only tolerate these but do great on them. GLP-1 agonists cannot be used in pregnant patients, those with medullary thyroid cancer or breastfeeding patients. They must be used in caution with insulin and in patients with kidney, liver or stomach problems but they are generally tolerated by most people. Of course a doctor needs to evaluate each patient to determine if these medications will be afe or effective.

There is another medication for those who can’t take GLP-1 agonists that is newer to the market and has a recent safety profile as well. This is a new take on a old drug. Qsymia combines the old stimulant/appetite suppressant phentermine with a seizure medication called topiramate. These two medications work synergistically to supress appetite while using small doses so that side effects are minimized. As with the GLP-1 agoinsis, the dose is started low and is gradually increased. The main effect is for supression of appetite, but often this is the key to making better decisions about diet.This medication is considered safe for long term use so this is a good option to help maintain weight loss in the long term for some people. Again, not everyone can take a medication for weight loos, so a visit to the doctor is needed.

There are several other weight loss medications out there but these three are the most promising right now. For many patients, losing just 5-10% of body weight can have great benefits for overall health and wellbeing. Weight loss is not easy but it IS really improtant and these newer medications offer so much hope even for those who have struggled with weight loss in the past. It is very importnat to speak with a doctor prior to starting a weight loss program as well as taking medications for weight loss. Those patients who follow with a doctor have greater success. Need help losing your extra weight? Schedule a visit with you doctor to discuss how you can get healthier. There is definietly hope on the horizon!

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