What is Chronic Weight Loss Medication? How it Works and What it’s For?
Recently rising obesity rates have led to the popularity of more weight loss interventions. From various trendy exercises to strict new diets, the weight loss landscape is busier and more diverse than ever before. However, one intervention stands out from the rest because of the conversation surrounding it: chronic weight loss medications.
Until now, people still think of quick-fix pills and wonder supplements when they hear the term. Contrary to this popular belief, chronic weight loss medications are medically-approved drugs that are widely prescribed by healthcare practitioners. In fact, they’ve been so helpful that doctors claim they prescribe these medications to multiple obese patients in a single clinic day. If you’re interested in learning more, keep reading below.
What are chronic weight loss medications?
Commonly, chronic weight loss medications come in either tablets and capsules, or as injectables. A few of the most popular chronic weight loss medications today include Wegovy, Contrave, and Ozempic. Chronic weight loss medications are also approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help manage severe excess weight. This approval means that they have been tested thoroughly for safety and efficacy. Today, these medications can encourage up to 15% weight loss.
Despite their proven effectiveness, they’re not meant to address weight issues alone. For optimal results, medical weight loss should be paired with a lifestyle program that encourages healthy habits. This includes promoting more physical activity and well-rounded eating. For the latter, this often means incorporating beneficial superfoods like cashews, blueberries, and spinach into your diet while letting you still enjoy your favorite meals in moderation. Together, the medications and lifestyle program aim to result in long-term weight loss and management.
How do they work?
Chronic weight loss medications are typically only prescribed for those who are diagnosed with obesity. This is because obesity is a condition caused by a handful of factors, such as stress, genetics, and hormones. This means that severe excess weight is often not a voluntary choice and is triggered by the body’s internal processes.
To mitigate this, chronic weight loss drugs work by addressing a person’s biology. They mostly target the brain and the gut to limit feelings of hunger and give the impression of fullness. As a result, patients experience suppressed appetites. Over time, this results in a caloric deficit that encourages weight loss.
However, these aren’t the only effects of most weight loss medications. Many of them were initially intended to treat other conditions and diseases instead. For example, Semaglutide and Liraglutide were originally meant to address diabetes. On the other hand, Naltrexone-Bupropion was taken to manage addiction and mood disorders. Thus, this means that most weight loss supplements are off-label prescriptions and can lead to some side effects like moodiness or nausea. As such, it’s best to consult with a doctor to know which one is right for you and, most importantly, to see if you’re eligible.
Who is eligible to take them?
Weight loss medications aren’t accessible to the general public. A medical professional is in charge of prescribing whether you should be on them, and they’ll do so if you pass the following requirements:
Have a BMI of 30 and above
Eligibility starts with determining where you fall on the body mass index (BMI) scale. Doctors use this to know what classification your weight falls under. A BMI of 30 and above means that you qualify as obese and are at a higher risk of several conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, and depression. It also means that your hormones and metabolism are in a complex state, which is why medications are recommended.
Have a BMI of over 27 and a qualifying health condition
A BMI between 25 and 29.9 means overweight and is considered pre-obesity. However, if you have a BMI of 27 or above and a health condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, you will still be eligible for weight loss medication. This is because you are already at risk of the dangers of excess weight and require weight loss support.
If you are an adult and are not pregnant
As mentioned above, these medications often come with side effects. The FDA acknowledges this and has set an age and pregnancy restriction for these drugs to protect these individuals from any stressful complications. Therefore, they’re not allowed to consume these drugs at all.
If you’re still unsure whether you qualify for these medications, it’s best to consult your doctor.
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