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Do weight loss drugs really work?

What is medical weight loss?

If these three words conjure up images of surgery for you, think again. This type of program is not about surgery, and it's not just about taking diet pills either.

Medical weight loss is a targeted weight management plan which follows scientific medical principles, and which is directed by physicians. The goal is to target the root causes of excess weight gain, so that you can reach and maintain an optimal weight. Plans are customized for individuals based on their weight, lifestyle, and health needs. A bariatric physician in a weight loss clinic oversees your progress each step of the way.

How is this different from other weight loss programs?

These medical programs take a much more sophisticated approach than commercial weight loss programs. The clinical staff involved can view your situation from an overall medical standpoint rather than just looking at your weight alone, and they have more advanced tools at their disposal.

In a medical weight program, doctors will use your body composition and metabolism to measure your progress. They can prescribe safe diets which are designed to help you break free from food addiction, as well as weight loss medications that are appropriate for your situation.

The doctors involved always keep a focus on your overall health. They understand how to adjust the program to take into account other conditions or medications, and they can coordinate with your primary care physician. Often people who have succeeded in one of these programs may no longer need some of their medications after reaching a better weight.

Do weight loss drugs really work?

According to the Harvard Women's Health Watch, the new prescription drugs in this field do offer some real benefits. Some drugs work by blocking fat absorption, while others act as appetite suppressants. Another drug, Iorcaserin stimulates receptors for serotonin, which is a chemical in the brain which regulates metabolism and fullness.

An obesity specialist with Harvard Medical School, Dr. Butsch, says that studies have shown women lost significant body weight on these medications. He cautions that there is no silver bullet, however, and people still need to watch their exercise and diet.

Who can benefit from these programs?

Physician-supervised weight programs can benefit almost anyone who wants to lose weight, whether the goal is to lose the last five pounds, or a hundred. Programs can be customized to the needs of individuals, so that they fit your specific situation.

If you have struggled with losing weight in the past, and found diet and exercise to be ineffective, then the added benefits of medical weight loss may help you. It can also help people who have gained weight due to menopause, or who have trouble losing pounds due to a slow metabolism.
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