There's a reason why you've probably been seeing headlines about the “obesity epidemic.” The prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased dramatically over the last twenty years, going from 30.5 percent of the population to nearly 42 percent.
Losing weight is never easy, but when a person is seriously overweight or obese — having a body mass index of 30 or more — it becomes a serious health concern, making weight-loss both more difficult and more urgent.
Relying on diet and exercise alone may not be enough, though they remain key to any weight-loss strategy. Some find that they are unable to reach and maintain a healthier weight in the long-term with diet and exercise alone. Luckily, there are now some medical options that can help people achieve their weight-loss goals.
In addition to weight-loss surgery, pharmacological treatments for overweight and obesity — weight-loss drugs — can help dieters attain a healthier weight and reduce their risk of obesity-related conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and joint problems.
“There have been changes in obesity treatment in recent years,” one of the authors of the gudelines, Perica Davitkov, a gastroenterologist affiliated with the Department of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, said. “This guideline is the first since diabetes drugs were approved for obesity treatment and provides clear information for doctors and their adult patients who struggle to lose weight or keep it off with lifestyle changes alone.”
“Using medications as an option to assist with weight loss can improve weight-related complications like joint pain, diabetes, fatty liver and hypertension.”
In addition to lifestyle changes like getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet, the AGA guidelines strongly recommend that patients with obesity consider using a medication designed to help promote weight loss.
The multidisciplinary panel synthesized the evidence available on eight pharmacological treatments for overweight and obesity and developed recommendations for their use in clinical practice.
Here are the results for the four most effective medications:
- Semaglutide (Wegovy®): 10.8 percent weight loss
- Phentermine-topiramate ER (Qsymia®): 8.5 percent weight loss
- Liraglutide (Saxenda®): 4.8 percent weight loss
- Naltrexone-Bupropion ER (Contrave®): 3.0 percent weight loss
The AGA Clinical Practice Guideline on Pharmacological Interventions for Adults with Obesity is published in Gastroenterology.