Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. adults are overweight or obese. That means just one-third of the nation fall into the healthy weight range. Obesity is also rising in other parts of the world. A body-mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 is considered obese.

Weight loss options… where to begin?

Exercise and a healthy diet

Regardless of which diet makes the most headlines, the key to losing weight will always be regular exercise and a healthy diet. Ask your health care provider to recommend a nutritionist, who can help you design an individualized meal plan. Eating a healthy and balanced diet doesn’t have to be a chore.

Medications for weight loss

Weight-loss prescription drugs can offer mild weight loss (usually less than 10 pounds). However, most patients eventually gain the weight back once they stop taking the drug if they don’t continue to follow a healthy lifestyle routine. Some examples of weight loss drugs include:

Orlistat (marketed as Xenical) works by preventing the body from absorbing fats. Side effects include oily diarrhea, gas, and stomach cramping.

Phentermine (marketed as Adipex-P, Suprenza, or Ionamin) or Phentermine/Topiramate (marketed as Qsymia) works in the brain to reduce appetite. Side effects include heart palpitations, high blood pressure, a racing heartbeat, dizziness, euphoria, and difficulty sleeping.

Lorcaserin (marketed as Belviq) works in the brain to reduce appetite, leading to weight loss. Side effects may include headaches, respiratory infections, and nausea.

Naltrexone/Buproprion (marketed as Contrave) is a newer medication that also works in brain to affect appetite and produce weight loss.

High-dose liraglutide (marketed as Saxenda), high-dose semaglutide (marketed as Wegovy), and tirzepatide (marketed as Mounjaro) are injectable medicines that have been recently approved for the treatment of obesity.

Some obesity drugs can result in up to 10-15% weight loss.

Weight-loss (“bariatric”) surgery

Some patients who are severely overweight opt for surgery to help them lose weight after trying medical management.

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