Weight-loss medicines work by making you feel less hungry, making you feel full more quickly, or changing how you digest fat.
Weight-loss medicines include:
Weight-loss medicines are used along with diet changes and more physical activity. Without those lifestyle changes, you will gain the weight back if you stop taking the medicine.
Medicine doesn't work for everyone. If you don't lose weight within 4 weeks of starting the medicine, it probably won't help you.1
|Weight-loss medicine||Examples of side effects|
Sometimes these side effects go away after a few weeks. But often they don't. They're the main reason people stop taking this medicine.
Appetite suppressants (benzphetamine, diethylpropion, phendimetrazine, phentermine)
Most of these side effects are mild, and they usually improve with continued treatment.
If you are under a lot of stress, have an emotional illness such as anxiety or depression, or have an alcohol or drug problem, you need treatment for that problem before you use weight-loss medicine. If you don't treat it, you will have a harder time losing weight.
Your doctor may recommend weight-loss medicine if:
If your doctor prescribes a weight-loss medicine for you, tell him or her about all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements that you are taking.
Your doctor will want to know your side effects and watch to see if your weight loss improves your type 2 diabetes, cholesterol, and/or blood pressure.
|Take weight-loss medicines||Use only diet and exercise to lose weight|
|What is usually involved?|
|What are the benefits?|
|What are the risks and side effects?|
Are you interested in what others decided to do? Many people have faced this decision. These personal stories may help you decide.
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
"I was concerned about taking a weight-loss medicine. I was worried about those stimulant diet pills that people took years ago that had such a questionable reputation. But after struggling to lose not even 5 pounds over the past 8 months, I am now ready to see whether medicines can add anything to the good habits I've tried to establish. I know the medicine isn't going to be a magic bullet, but I hope it can give me that little extra help I seem to need."
— John, age 50
"I realize that I didn't gain my extra weight in just a few months, and I don't expect to be able to lose it all quickly. I want to get back to eating a more balanced diet again, and set a good example for my kids so that they don't develop poor eating habits as they grow up. I plan to start taking them for walks and introducing them to lots of outdoor activities that we can do together. I don't want to be on pills for the rest of my life. I need a long-term solution."
— George, age 45
"My sister has been taking a weight-loss medicine for about 4 months now, and she has been on a low-fat diet. We have been walking together 3 times a week. She has lost about 10 pounds already. I don't think I've lost any weight yet, even though I have been watching what I eat, too. I think if the medicine gives me a little help toward losing those first few pounds, I have the good habits and will power to keep the weight off on my own."
— Susan, age 42
"The side effects of Xenical sound pretty unpleasant to me. I have made a few changes in my diet, and I am walking twice a week. I'm going to give myself at least a year of a balanced diet and exercise before I consider whether I want to try taking a medicine."
— Carla, age 40
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to take weight-loss medicine
Reasons not to take weight-loss medicine
I am desperate to lose weight, and I think medicine will help me.
I don't like the idea of taking medicine.
I have tried diet and exercise, and I just can't seem to lose weight.
I want to keep trying diet and exercise before I start taking medicine.
I'm not worried about the cost of medicine.
I don't think I can afford the cost of medicine.
I think losing a little bit of weight is worth the side effects of medicine.
I don't think the side effects are worth the small amount of weight I might lose by taking medicine.
Along with taking medicine, I'm willing to work hard to make permanent changes in my eating and exercise habits.
Medicines aren't worth it to me if I'll just gain the weight back without permanent lifestyle changes.
My other important reasons:
My other important reasons:
Now that you've thought about the facts and your feelings, you may have a general idea of where you stand on this decision. Show which way you are leaning right now.
Taking weight-loss medicine
NOT taking weight-loss medicine
1. Weight-loss medicine is all I need to lose lots of weight permanently.
2. I may suffer unpleasant side effects if I take weight-loss medicine.
3. I am just a little overweight, so weight-loss medicine is probably a good choice for me.
1. Do you understand the options available to you?
2. Are you clear about which benefits and side effects matter most to you?
3. Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?
1. How sure do you feel right now about your decision?
2. Check what you need to do before you make this decision.
3. Use the following space to list questions, concerns, and next steps.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Theresa O'Young, PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy|