When you think of weight loss and medications, you likely think of weight loss drugs. But medications can play a key role in weight gain AND weight loss – and it’s important to understand the whole picture when it comes to how medications can affect your weight.
That’s why, at Longstreet Clinic’s Center for Weight Management, care providers always look at a patient’s complete health history, including their prescriptions – as well as judging if other medications may offer a solution to their weight concerns.
“A lot of times, medication used to treat blood pressure can cause weight gain. Certain medications used to treat diabetes can also cause weight gain, as well as medications that are often used to treat anxiety and depression,” said Sonali Ganguly, M.D., a Longstreet Clinic endocrinologist who specializes in obesity medicine.
According to the Obesity Action Coalition, prescription medications often are a source of unwanted weight gain, noting that:
“Common drugs that cause unwanted pounds include corticosteroids, antidepressants, diabetes medications such as insulin or those containing sulfonylureas, some heartburn drugs, hormone therapy/contraceptives, and anti-seizure drugs such as Depakote®. You should also be aware that while some medications don’t cause you to gain weight, they may make it more difficult to lose excess weight.”
It is a reality that the qualified and caring providers at Longstreet Clinic recognize. And it is why they analyze every aspect of a patient’s wellbeing to help produce the clearest path to healthy weight loss for those battling obesity.
And if they do discover a possible culprit, Center for Weight Management staff work closely with a patient’s other providers to find an alternative medication – one that will not work against a patient following a total approach to weight loss, which always includes healthy diet and exercise.
“We want to work closely with your primary care physician, with your psychiatrist, or whomever is involved in prescribing these medications to try and adjust them to try and treat you with medications that are weight neutral or promote weight loss, instead of promoting weight gain,” Dr. Ganguly said.
That is why Center for Weight Management providers look at every aspect of a patient’s health.
“We’re able to look at their medical history and address the obesity issues that other providers may not be looking into,” said Centers for Weight Management nurse practitioner Mercedes Hall, FNP-C.
Because of this commitment to looking at the overall picture, Longstreet Clinic providers also determine if there are prescription medications that could prove helpful in a patient’s weight loss journey.
However, weight loss medication should never be viewed as a magic pill or a sole option – rather as one part of a multi-faceted plan.
“We do use medications for weight loss, but it’s not the end-all, be-all. First, we look into how much a patient puts into a diet plan that we prescribe for them, how much are they putting into exercise, and if we feel like we’ve exhausted that, then pharma co-therapy is definitely an option for these patients who have issues with weight loss using just diet and exercise,” said Center for Weight Management nurse practitioner Oteia Morris, FNP-C. “What we’ve found is some people benefit from having it. So, it’s looked at carefully. It’s not just a, ‘you can have it and go on your way,’ it’s a process that’s thought out and we look at to determine if it’s the best option for that patient.”
When it is determined that medication offers a route to success, it is important to determine which of the myriad options offers both results and safety.
(NOTE: Due to the nature of pharmaceutical weight loss, it should NEVER be attempted unless under considered, professional care. And over-the-counter weight loss medication should always be avoided due to the unstable and unsafe nature of the substances involved. Always talk to your provider about any supplements, vitamins and OTC medications you are taking or considering.)
“There are several prescription medications (to aid with weight loss) but not one medication is right for every patient,” Dr. Ganguly said. “We really work on individualizing treatment. Certain medications may be appropriate for a certain patient and others may not. We do look at medical problems and see which (medications) fit that patient the best.”
When you consider the wide range of options available, it is easy to see why a patient needs experienced and precise advice.
“There are medications that help to reduce appetite. There are medications that reduce cravings. We use a lot of these in our practice as well. There are medications that block the absorption of fat; these are older medications, but they work well for patients that take high fat diets,” Dr. Ganguly said. “And the newest class of medications work by slowing digestion. This works by making patients feel full for a longer time and hence they eat less because their appetite is reduced.”
Yet however helpful these prescription medications may be, Center for Weight Management practitioners stress that they only one part of a total plan – one that always starts with the basics.
“Certainly, lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise remain the cornerstone of treating obesity, but medications can certainly help patients,” Dr. Ganguly said.
Have you been working hard at diet and exercise without sustained success and are looking for help? Or perhaps you wonder whether a certain medication may be hindering your attempts to lose weight. If that is the case, please contact the caring staff at the Center for Weight Management today. Our providers are always happy to discuss our proven and safe methods of weight loss.