A New Perspective: Using Medication for Weight Management

It is standard practice to use medication to manage diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis, and countless other chronic health conditions. However, if you mention the word medication and weight loss in the same sentence you get the instant look of disapproval. This is because weight loss medications are wrongfully stigmatized in the weight loss industry. They are viewed as fake claims to be a magic cure-all and that all you have to do is take this medication and you will have the body of a model. Most everyone knows someone on medication to help lower their blood pressure, lift their mood, or stop their joints or back from aching. Yet, using medication to help achieve or maintain a healthy weight continues to be stigmatized as unnecessary or “cheating”.

The truth is that weight loss medications are not designed to be a cure-all. They are intended to work in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle to support moderate, safe, and effective weight loss. As specially trained Obesity Medicine Providers, here at Dr. Simonds Metabolics & Weight Loss we practice with the knowledge that excess body fat and body weight are legitimate medical conditions that deserve the same treatment options as conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis. It is not only unfair not to provide prescription medication as part of a treatment plan when someone needs assistance to lose weight, but creates an unacceptable double standard when we as medical providers are willing to prescribe medication for elevated cholesterol, joint pain or anxiety but not for obesity or overweight. This also goes for us as patients, willing to take medications for other reasons, but feeling like we somehow shouldn’t need or deserve these same treatment options for our weight. 

There are a multitude of medical conditions that improve with weight loss. By treating weight, we can have a profoundly positive impact on other health parameters such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol levels, physical aches and pains, and emotional/mental well-being. Just 5-10% of body weight loss has shown to result in a significant improvement in weight related medical conditions and overall health. Prescription medications such as the appetite suppressant Phentermine are valuable tools in the treatment of weight and are necessary for many patients to be able to achieve successful weight loss. Using medication is not “cheating” and it does not serve as a “crutch”; it is a powerful treatment component that, when used along with dietary and lifestyle changes, treats the medical condition itself and assists patients in engaging in healthy behaviors. 

The Lurking Dangers of Obesity

Traditionally, obesity is defined as individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. There is also a consensus among thought leaders in Obesity Medicine that having a body fat percentage greater than 33% for women and greater than 25% for men also warrants a diagnosis of obesity regardless of BMI. This condition is more than just carrying around extra weight and having a hard time finding clothes that fit. It is a serious health concern that can have devastating consequences. The body must work much harder to support the excess weight. For instance, the heart has to pump harder to circulate blood throughout the body and the lungs also have to work harder to allow the individual to breathe optimally. These strains on the body can lead to serious health conditions including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol
  • Respiratory issues
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Aching joints
  • Depression/mental health issues
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Low fertility
  • Cancer

The unfortunate truth is that obesity, if not addressed can lead to death. Obesity is responsible for the deaths of 300,000 Americans per year. There is an all too common misconception that people who suffer from obesity simply lack the will to lose weight. This is far from true. In many cases, there is a neurochemical imbalance that prevents weight loss and promotes weight gain. For those who have trouble losing weight with diet and exercise alone, weight loss medication is extremely beneficial.

What are the Benefits of Weight Loss Medication?

It is important to understand that weight loss medication is not a miracle drug. You cannot eat whatever you want, take the medication, and still reach your ideal body weight. Rather it is meant to be used as an extension of an already healthy lifestyle of eating balanced meals, regular exercise, and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking. 

Weight-loss medications are meant to help individuals lose weight at a safe rate that helps minimize the risk of weight regain.

  Benefits of weight loss medication include:

  • Appetite control – Suppresses your appetite so that you are less likely to consume excessive calories
  • Since your appetite is suppressed, you are more likely to take the time to make healthy food choices and plan out your meals with care
  • Reduced cravings, also allowing for healthier food choices
  • Increased metabolic rate
  • Help to prevent the regain of weight

There are several weight loss drugs available, but according to the Obesity Medicine Association, Phentermine is one of the oldest, safest, and most effective weight-loss medications prescribed by health care professionals. 

What is Phentermine? 

Phentermine was first approved by the FDA in 1959 for short-term use. It is in the class of drugs known as “anorectics” (appetite suppressants).  This medication is approved for individuals over the age of 16 for use up to 12 weeks, but is safely used for longer periods of time under the supervision of a medical provider. This is a prescription medication, which means it cannot be purchased over the counter. 

Common brand medication names include: 

  • Adipex-P
  • Lomaira
  • Suprenza

The generic medication, Phentermine is more commonly prescribed than these brand name versions due to the low cost and wide availability. It can also be found in a combination weight-loss medication called Qsymia where it is paired with another medication called topiramate. 

Who is Phentermine Recommended For? 

Phentermine is generally recommended by healthcare professionals for those who have a BMI of 30 or above. Phentermine may also be prescribed for individuals who have a BMI greater than 27 and also suffer from health conditions caused by excessive weight or ones that inhibit weight loss. There are other scenarios in which Phentermine may be appropriate, such as prevention of weight regain after losing weight, treatment of excess body fat, or having an occupational need for maintaining a lower weight. Your healthcare professional can help determine if Phentermine is a good treatment option on your weight loss journey. 

How Does Phentermine Work? 

In theory, losing weight is a mathematics equation of burning more calories than you are taking in. Although it clearly isn’t quite that simple. Phentermine works by decreasing your level of hunger, reducing cravings, and slightly increasing your metabolic rate. You feel fuller for longer and are unable to eat as much food at one sitting. This, in turn, makes it easier to control both the quality and quantity of food consumed. 

Researchers believe that phentermine works by increasing the level of certain neurotransmitters in the brain including:

  • Norepinephrine
  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine

As the level of these three neurotransmitters increases, your level of hunger decreases. There are also many individuals who experience the beneficial side effects of increased energy, improved ability to focus, and better mood. 

Begin Your Journey to a New You!

Obesity is a medical condition just like anything else and should be treated as such. This is why Dr. Simonds and his team have dedicated their careers to helping individuals overcome obesity, adopt a healthy lifestyle, and forever change their lives. When you choose Simonds Metabolics & Weight Loss, you can expect a plan that is easy to follow and personalized to fit your individual needs. We believe in the use of weight-loss medications, such as Phentermine, combined with healthy eating habits and adequate exercise. 

Our clinic proudly offers ongoing support along with follow-up visits to monitor progress, answering any questions you might have, and adjusting your plan as needed. You can also interact with others in the community who have been where you are or are currently going through the same thing and can give you helpful tips and serve as an inspiration throughout your journey. Obesity is a serious issue that can affect your health for the rest of your life if not addressed. Dr. Simonds and his team are here today to help you gain back control of your life. Do not waste another minute saying “What if”. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation!