Injectable medications for weight loss – here’s what you need to know

Almost 70 percent of American adults are obese or overweight. Obesity (BMI 30 or over) and overweight (BMI 27 or more) are chronic diseases that can lead to serious health issues including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

The aim of obesity treatment is to lose excess weight and maintain a healthy weight. Diet, exercise, and lifestyle modification are the first line of treatment for obesity.  but your doctor may also consider prescription weight-loss medications if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • A BMI of 30 or greater
  • A BMI of 27 or greater with a weight-related health problem such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.

It’s important to remember that weight loss medications do not replace long-term lifestyle changes like a balanced diet and exercise. Once you stop the treatment and do not make real changes – you may gain back the weight. Also, there are experts who have concerns that the side effects of prescription medications to treat overweight and obesity may in some cases outweigh the benefits. For this reason, it is important to weigh up all the pros and cons of the treatment, side-effects, and potential outcomes with your physician, and never take weight loss medication only to improve the way you look. It is also important to bear in mind that some weight loss medications were linked to serious health problems in the past and were removed from U.S. markets.

In addition to weight loss pills which have been around for some years, there are also approved injectable drugs called Saxenda and Wegovy. These drugs mimic the hormone GLP1 (glucagon-like peptide 1), which is produced in the gut in response to food. They work by making the stomach empty slower, so you feel satisfied with smaller amounts of food. This helps you eat less and reduces the number of calories you consume. The drugs also signal the brain there is food in the stomach, which helps decrease your appetite and cravings, helping you to make more consistent choices that are in tune with your body’s needs. These drugs come in the form of a pen for injection and are given as a daily or weekly dose. They have been tested in large studies, and in addition to weight loss have been found to reduce the risks associated with cardiovascular disease.

Your physician will take a careful history before deciding if injectable medications are suitable for you. This will include:

  • Your family and medical history
  • Benefits of weight loss
  • Your commitment to losing weight
  • Possible side effects of the drug
  • Insurance coverage

For the treatment to be successful, it is important for your health provider to monitor your progress, including your medication dosage, healthy eating plan, and exercise program. As with many medications, side effects may be experienced, including nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, and headaches. Most side effects are mild and often improve if you continue to take the medication. Rarely, serious side effects can occur.

Medical Disclaimer
The articles provided on this website are for informational purposes only. In addition, it is written for a generic audience and not a specific case; therefore, this information should not be used for diagnostic or medical treatment. This site does not attempt to replace the patient-physician relationship and fully recommends the reader to seek out the best care from his/her physician and/or diabetes educator.

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