Whether medication is right for you depends on your doctor’s recommendation. Weight-loss medicines may be recommended if you’re unable to lose one pound per week after six months of eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
They may also be prescribed to adults who have obesity, which means their body mass index is 30 or greater. If you have a BMI of 27 or higher and are at risk for heart disease or other health conditions, your doctor may recommend weight-loss medicines as well.
You should only use weight-loss medicines as part of a program that includes diet, physical activity, and behavioral changes, according to the National Heart Lung Blood Institute.
Orlistat (Xenical® and Alli®)
Orlistat (Xenical®) helps people lose between five and 10 pounds, although some people lose more weight. Most of the weight loss occurs within the first six months of taking the medicine.
People taking Xenical need regular checkups with their doctors, especially during the first year of taking the medicine. During checkups, your doctor will check your weight, blood pressure, and pulse and may recommend other tests. He or she also will talk with you about any medicine side effects and answer your questions.
The FDA also has approved Alli®, an over-the-counter weight-loss aid for adults. Alli is the lower dose form of orlistat. Alli is meant to be used along with a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet and physical activity. In studies, most people taking Alli lost five to 10 pounds over 6 months.
Both Xenical and Alli reduce the absorption of fats, fat calories, and vitamins A, D, E, and K to promote weight loss. Both medicines also can cause mild side effects, such as oily and loose stools.
Although rare, some reports of liver disease have occurred with the use of orlistat. More research is needed to find out whether the medicine plays a role in causing liver disease.
You also should talk with your doctor before starting orlistat if you’re taking blood-thinning medicines or being treated for diabetes or thyroid disease. Also, ask your doctor whether you should take a multivitamin due to the possible loss of some vitamins.
Lorcaserin Hydrochloride (Belviq®) and Qsymia™
In July 2012, the FDA approved two new medicines for chronic (ongoing) weight management. Lorcaserin hydrochloride (Belviq®) and Qsymia™ are approved for adults who have a BMI of 30 or greater. (Qsymia is a combination of two FDA-approved medicines: phentermine and topiramate.)
These medicines also are approved for adults with a BMI of 27 or greater who have at least one weight-related condition, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high blood cholesterol.
Both medicines are meant to be used along with a reduced-calorie diet and physical activity.
+ Find help losing weight at Bon Secours Weight Loss Institute. Our comprehensive program considers the unique needs of each individual. We offer medically-supervised weight loss programs, nutrition and fitness coaching as well as surgical weight loss at Bon Secours Surgical Weight Loss Center.