Do Weight Loss Medications Work for People with Obesity?

Obesity is a significant global health problem, with millions worldwide struggling with weight and health issues. While lifestyle changes have been crucial for obesity treatments to this day, they’re not as easy for many trying to lose weight. Biological and genetic factors impact a person’s weight and ability to shed pounds efficiently, even with diet and exercise.

As such, weight loss programs and obesity treatments have focused more on addressing a person’s biology to improve weight loss, bringing about the development and use of weight loss medications. The obesity drug industry has rapidly grown as a result. Insights from Barclays note that the market could be worth $200 billion within the next decade. However, some may still be skeptical or apprehensive about their use and whether they actually work for sustainable weight loss. Here’s a guide to weight loss medications and if they work for people with obesity:

What are Weight Loss Medications?
Weight loss medications target biological or genetic factors that can hamper weight loss to level the playing field for people with obesity who struggle with losing weight. This makes lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet and regular exercise, more effective. These drugs typically alter the appetite or the absorption of calories to encourage weight loss.

Types of Weight Loss Medications
The rising interest and acceptance of weight loss medications have led to the development of many types and brands, signaling the advent of a new generation of pharmaceutical obesity solutions. Forbes’ write-up on weight loss drugs explains that many of these medications affect the gut-brain weight regulating system. When food travels through the gut, it signals the brain to boost or suppress appetite. Weight loss drugs work in this communication system by mimicking hormones such as glucagon‐like peptide‐1 (GLP-1), which tells the brain that the body is full, preventing overeating and cravings. Others prevent the absorption of fat and reduce the intake of calories while promoting fat burn.

Though these drugs may work similarly, people may experience more effective results with one or the other depending on various factors. Looking at Saxenda vs Wegovy, the latter is more effective for weight loss, but medical history, insurance coverage, and patient preference play a role in determining which one is best for a patient. Someone may prefer the once-daily injections of Saxenda over Wegovy’s weekly, and vice versa. It’s for that reason that weight loss medications are prescribed to those who are eligible for them under the guidance of a medical professional who works with them to determine the best option.

Do These Drugs Work?
Misconceptions and stigma around weight loss drugs have been prevalent for years, and many are still unsure that they’re even effective for losing weight. However, these drugs have proven safe and effective for weight loss. A study from the New England Journal of Medicine found that people with obesity taking a 2.4 mg dose of a semaglutide drug lost 12% of their body weight after 28 weeks.

Still, these medications are not a silver bullet for obesity. They still require support from lifestyle changes, such as eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, sleeping well, and managing stress to achieve sustainable and long-term results. Weight loss drugs may level the playing field but aren’t a magic solution.

If you’re struggling with obesity and want to take weight loss medication, it’s crucial to boost efforts to help you lose weight effectively. Starting with minor adjustments and working up to more significant changes can help improve your motivation and consistency. Healthy habits don’t have to be complex or intense either; check out the “Does Walking Help Lose Weight Everywhere” post to see how something as simple as walking can make a big change. Weight loss medication, together with lifestyle changes, can lead to successful weight loss.

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