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Medication in the Treatment of Obesity (cont.)

Risks and Benefits of Weight-Loss Medications

The possible benefits of these drugs in the short term include weight loss, which may lower the risk of some obesity-related health problems. Whether these drugs actually improve a person's health over the long term is not known.

The risks include the side effects, which vary from drug to drug (see next section).

  • Side effects are especially a concern in patients who may be healthy other than their obesity.
  • Other concerns include the potential for abuse of the drugs (all except Xenical are controlled substances).
  • People taking these drugs often find that their weight loss tapers off after four to six months. This is usually attributed to development of tolerance, in other words that the medication has reached its limit of effectiveness. The drugs are being studied to see if tolerance really does occur.

To ensure your safety, before you start taking one of these drugs, be sure to let your health care professional know if you have any of the following medical conditions:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/23/2015
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