According to the World Health Organization, 13% of adults around the world are categorized as being ‘obese’. In additition to that figure, a further 39% of people are classed as being ‘overweight’. This means that more than half of the world’s population has a body mass index, or BMI, of 25 or more, which increases the risk of a number of diseases and conditions that could prove to be fatal.
Being overweight or obese increases the likelihood of developing…
- Heart disease, High blood pressure, High cholesterol, Type II diabetes, Stroke, Breathing problems, Joint pain, Fatigue, Depression and anxiety, Osteoarthritis, Some cancers (including breast, ovarian, prostate, and kidney cancer)
Obesity is preventable and can be treated. And there are three types of obesity treatment available:
- Lifestyle treatments: Healthier eating, reduced intake, and more exercise
- Surgical treatments: For example, surgery to remove part of the stomach
- Medical treatments: Drugs that directly or indirectly support weight loss.
With surgery only recommended as a last resort when other treatments fail, medical solutions are growing in popularity. This is especially true amongst those who find it difficult to lose weight through lifestyle changes, or who have been advised to begin losing weight rapidly should weight be believed to be causing serious health issues.
Drugs for Weight Loss
Some weight loss treatments are available on prescription, or over the counter. There are two categories of weight loss treatment: direct treatments, and indirect treatments.
- Indirect treatments are those where weight loss is a byproduct or side effect of a medicine that is typically used to treat another condition. An example is nootropics. These are often taken to boost concentration and motivation, but may help obese patients to focus more clearly on healthy eating initiatives.
- Direct treatments are those that actively contribute to weight loss. Lipase inhibitors are perhaps one of the most well known examples. These drugs bind to lipases (a type of enzyme) in the body to prevent them from absorbing fat from food. Generally, these treatments prevent absorption of 30% of all dietary fats.
One of the most recognisable lipase inhibitors is Orlistat. This drug is sold over the counter in many countries, including the United States. It is very popular due to its fast-acting mechanism that starts to impact fat digestion within the first 1-2 days.
Lipase inhibitors can be very effective, although some people do find them slightly uncomfortable to use as unabsorbed fat is excreted through bowel movements.
With any type of obesity treatment – including basic lifestyle changes – it is important to stay safe. It is generally recommended to follow a plan that results in a 1-2 lb loss per week, and to try not to lose more than 5-10% of your body weight within 6 months.
It’s also important to understand that medications alone, while helpful, should not be relied on for long term use. Weight loss medicines should always be used alongside a healthy diet and moderate exercise to ensure that excess weight does not return when the course of treatment comes to an end, and you continue to stay at a healthy BMI.
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