Commonly Asked Questions About Weight-Loss Medications

Q: Can medications replace physical activity or changes in eating habits as a way to lose weight?

A: No. The use of weight-loss medications to treat obesity should be combined with physical activity and improved diet to lose and maintain weight successfully over the long term.

Q: Will I regain some weight after I stop taking weight-loss medications?

A: Probably. Most studies show that the majority of patients who stop taking weight-loss medications regain the weight they had lost. Maintaining healthy eating and physical activity habits will increase your likelihood of keeping weight off.

Q: How long will I need to take weight-loss medications to treat obesity?

A: The answer depends upon whether the medication helps you to lose and maintain weight and whether you have any side effects. Because obesity is a chronic disease, any treatment, whether drug or nondrug, may need to be continued for years, and perhaps a lifetime, to improve health and maintain a healthy weight. There is little information on how safe and effective weight-loss medications are for many years of use.

Q: What dosage of weight-loss medication would be right for me?

A: There is no one correct dose for weight loss medications. Your doctor will decide what works best for you based on his or her evaluation of your medical condition and response to treatment.

Q: I only need to lose 10 pounds. Are weight-loss medications appropriate for me?

A: Weight-loss medications may be appropriate for carefully selected patients who are at significant medical risk because of their obesity. They are not recommended for use by people who are only mildly overweight unless they have health problems that are made worse by their weight. These medications should not be used only to improve appearance.

Source: NIH Publication No. 97-4191

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