Many Brits cut down on calories to shift those pesky pounds, but did you know weight loss medication combined with lifestyle changes could help people achieve their weight goals?
Recent research has revealed that people with obesity were able to maintain a weight loss of nearly 11 percent for up to five years using this approach.
The study analysed data from 428 patients at an academic weight management centre, and found that weight loss greater than 10 percent offers significant health benefits.
Lead study author Michael A. Weintraub, MD, and fellow in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism at Weill Cornell Medicine, told Healthline : “Our real-world study demonstrates that anti-obesity medications along with lifestyle changes can achieve significant weight loss of 10 percent body weight and that loss is maintained over the long-term.
“If weight loss can be sustained, metabolic abnormalities can be reversed with meaningful benefits in patients with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and many other diseases where obesity is the root cause.”
He added: “This research can help guide medical practitioners toward designing personalised, accessible treatment regimens to aid patients in long-term weight loss.”
All patients received counselling on following a low-glycemic diet and exercise by the obesity medicine specialist and were offered additional counselling with a registered dietitian.
Weight-loss medications were also taken by the patients, these included metformin, phentermine, and topiramate – all of which are FDA-approved and off-label.
This routine was followed for about five years and participants maintained an average weight loss of 10.7 percent.
Weintraub said: “In our study, we were surprised at the magnitude of weight loss achieved and maintained. By adding anti-obesity medications, patients lost and maintained on average 10 percent of their body weight, which in this cohort was 23 pounds.”
The expert added that a third of patients could maintain 15 percent or more long-term weight loss.
Are weight loss drugs safe?
Suchitra Rao, MD, bariatric physician at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, California, said that if used correctly, weight loss medication can help people achieve their weight goals in a safe manner.
She told Healthline: “However obesity being a chronic, complex, and relapsing disease. It may be necessary to continue them long term for maintenance of weight loss and prevent weight regain.”
Lifestyle factors help to promote weight loss, these include a healthy diet, staying active, getting adequate sleep, and stress management.
All medications have potential side effects, but in the case of obesity, the benefits do often outweigh the risks, claims Minisha Sood, MD, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
She added: “Metformin, topiramate, and phentermine have been used for many years with success in a safe manner.”
Sood explained these medications have manageable side effects and can be easily discontinued if someone experiences adverse effects – however weight can increase if discontinued.
The study suggests that it is possible to achieve “significant” long-term weight loss for overweight and obese people.
Weintraub said: “Although it will require lifelong medications, the side effects of the weight loss medications used in this study are relatively mild.”
“The result will be a measurable improvement in the quality of life of those people that take the necessary lifestyle changes to heart.”
The NHS encourages those trying to lose weight to make healthy lifestyle changes, through diet and exercise.