Everyday Health Life

As Demand For Anti-Obesity Medication Soars, Who Is Eligible?

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With over 40% of American adults being classified as obese, the demand for anti-obesity medication is set to increase significantly. These medications are ideal for those who struggle with weight loss because they aid in reducing and regulating body mass from a biological standpoint. However, they are not readily available to the general public as they are only accessible through the prescription of a licensed physician.

Though many would benefit from said medications, there are restrictions on who can actually use them. They are mostly only given out as part of a medical program and administered under the strict supervision of a doctor. Listed below are details on some of the most common anti-obesity medications and the qualifications for who is eligible to take them.

Common Anti-Obesity Medications

Every year, the US records up to $2.1 billion worth of weight loss-related sales. A growing percentage of this stems from interventions in programs that aim to support medical weight loss. These acknowledge that obesity is caused by factors besides diet, such as biology, environment, and society. Thus, these combine FDA-approved prescriptions with a well-rounded lifestyle program to increase efficacy, with results producing up to 15% of weight loss.

Some prescribed weight loss medications are taken orally, like Orlistat. This capsule must be taken thrice daily, and users must follow a strict, low-fat diet. High-fat foods react to the medicine, which may result in side effects such as abdominal cramping and disturbed bowel movement. Orlistat works by blocking the body from ingesting the fat from food consumed. On the other hand, Bupropion-naltrexone boosts the metabolism to burn fat faster. Initially an antidepressant, this is an extended-release tablet that should be taken twice a day. Its side effects include raising blood pressure and causing headaches.

Similarly, some weight loss medications were initially intended to address other health conditions. Liraglutide and Semaglutide were developed to manage diabetes and are administered as injections. Liraglutide is injected daily, whereas Semaglutide is given once a week. The difference is that Liraglutide’s efficacy is measured in 16 weeks. If there is no observable change, doctors may choose to stop medication. Both medications help suppress the appetite and make the user feel full. Their side effects include nausea, constipation, fatigue, and blurred vision.

Given the aforementioned pros and cons, a medical advisor will decide which medication to assign to their patient. Below are some criteria that patients must meet to qualify for such medicines.

Who Can Take Anti-Obesity Medications?

Individuals With a BMI of 30 or Higher

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is measured using a person’s height and weight. This value determines whether someone is healthy, underweight, or overweight. A BMI of 30 classifies someone as obese and susceptible to many health risks like chronic diseases, which means weight loss is imperative. The difference between overweight and obese individuals means treatment will be different. Prescription medications are not designed for people who are only a little overweight; obesity is an abnormal physiological process, so the medicines are intended to impact the brain and hormones, which are not functioning correctly due to the disease of obesity.

Individuals with a BMI Ranging from 27-29.9 with Weight-Related Health Issues

An individual whose BMI falls under this category is still deemed overweight, but existing weight-related conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure become a cause for concern. High cholesterol is also a consideration, as this condition can detrimentally affect heart health and put you at risk of heart disease. These people would still benefit from the support of weight-loss medications before they officially pass the threshold for obesity.

Individuals Who are Not Pregnant

Weight loss medications are deemed unsafe for pregnant individuals. Some of these drugs may cause congenital disabilities in the baby or affect breastfeeding. As listed above, most supplements affect blood pressure, which may lead to a premature birth.

Individuals Aged 18 And Above

Depending on which type of weight loss drug is being considered, some weight loss medications are age-restricted by the FDA. For example, the use of Bupropion-naltrexone is not approved for children. Orlistat and Liraglutide, however, are allowed for children ages 12 and up.

To determine whether you qualify for anti-obesity medications, it’s best to consult your doctor. In this way, medically-aided weight loss is safer and more effective.

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