Weight Loss Drugs Prescription and OTC
Louise Chang, MD
Dr. Chang completed her undergraduate degree at Stanford University and attended medical school at New York Medical College. She completed her internal medicine residency at Saint Vincent's Hospital in New York City, where she also served as a chief resident from 2001-2002. Dr. Chang is board-certified in internal medicine.
- What are weight loss drugs and how do they work?
- Who is a good candidate for weight loss drugs?
- What are the different types of weight loss drugs?
- What are the side effects of weight loss drugs?
- What are the warnings with weight loss drugs?
- What are the drug interactions with weight loss drugs?
- What are some examples of weight loss drugs?
- What are OTC diet pills?
- What do I need to know about OTC diet supplements?
- Here are some common ingredients seen in OTC diet supplements:
What are weight loss drugs and how do they work?
Taking a weight loss drug may not result in weight loss by itself. But using diet pills can help an overweight person stay on a diet because nearly all of these medications work on suppressing appetite. "Feeling full" is believed to be related to a number of biochemical processes in the body. Signals to indicate fullness come from fat cells and the gastrointestinal tract; these converge with signals in the central nervous system. Appetite suppressants target a couple of key neurotransmitters in this process: serotonin and norepinephrine. Increased levels of serotonin result in a feeling of fullness. Increasing norepinephrine levels stimulate the central nervous system, decreasing appetite. Only one drug among the weight loss medications works in a different way. Orlistat (Xenical, Alli) works in the gastrointestinal tract to prevent absorption of about a third of ingested fat.
Who is a good candidate for weight loss drugs?
Weight loss medications are best suited for those with BMIs of 27 or greater, when there is at least one other risk factor (such as diabetes or high cholesterol) present, or in patients with no other risk factors who have BMIs of 30 or greater. However these guidelines are not absolute. Physicians may avoid using certain prescription diet pills in patients with hypertension, cardiac disease, hyperthyroidism or glaucoma â€“ as well as in those with a history of drug abuse.
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