Weight loss drugs or anti-obesity drugs are specific pharmacological agents that control or reduce weight. These drugs affect one of our most basic systems of the body, weight control, by changing either consumption or appetite for food. Weight loss drugs exert their action through the central nervous system (CNS) and specifically by the autonomous nervous system (ANS). They can have significant long term effects on the health of an individual.
This article aims to provide an introduction to the world of weight loss drugs, focusing on the use and abuse of these medications and how they work. Many people are familiar with the names of the weight loss medications; they include diet pills, fat blockers, laxatives, diuretics, antidepressants and weight loss supplements. Other less familiar, but also highly effective, drugs are thyroid stimulants, anorexia drugs, nausea killers, and antipsychotic drugs. Most weight loss drugs have some common characteristic, including the ability to suppress appetite, which is achieved by increasing the levels of the hormone adiponectin in the body.
Obesity is a condition that can be controlled by weight loss drugs. The goal of treatment in such cases is to reduce BMI, which is the body mass index measurement used to diagnose obesity. The higher the BMI, the greater the chances of acquiring a high percentage of obese patients in a population. While obesity is not a life threatening condition, it can lead to a variety of serious medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer. As a result, BMI is now considered to be one of the key risk indicators for all sorts of chronic diseases and health disorders. It should be noted that although BMI is a known risk factor, there are many other possible factors that contribute to obesity.
Most weight loss drugs target fat and reduce BMI. The most common drugs used for weight loss are those that stimulate the pituitary gland to reduce hunger signals sent to the brain. In addition, low-calorie diet or laxatives are commonly prescribed for obese patients. Another type of medication often prescribed for patients who want to lose weight is antidepressants. Although antidepressants have been known to contribute to weight loss, they are best for short-term use only.
Many prescription medications available over the counter contain amphetamine-type weight loss drugs. Generally, these medications are recommended for short-term use because they produce several side effects including dizziness, upset stomach, insomnia, hyperactivity, agitation, mania, and severe headaches. Because these medications produce several side effects, patients must be carefully monitored to avoid the possibility of their becoming addicted to them. Nonetheless, short-term use of these medications is often associated with substantial weight loss when compared with long-term use of other medications without modifications in diet and exercise.
There are many drugs available for the management of obesity. Among them are combination medications and diet drugs. However, diet drugs are usually not recommended for long-term use due to their tendency to cause severe and sometimes life-threatening side effects. Combination medications, however, can help overweight people to achieve their ideal weight and keep it after weight loss. Although the success rate of combination medication and diet drugs may vary, they are generally safe to use as long as the patient follows the doctor’s advice regarding dosage and frequency of medication and exercise.