Tags: Obesity | belviq | diet | pill | weight | loss | obesity

Belviq: Is New Weight Loss Pill Right for You?

Wednesday, 19 Jun 2013 10:56 AM

By Nick Tate and Kathleen Walter

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Belviq, the new weight-loss drug that hit the market last week, offers a new aid for overweight Americans looking to shed pounds, but two top obesity specialists say that it’s not for everyone and shouldn’t be a first-line remedy.
 
Ken Fujioka, M.D., director of the Center for Weight Management at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California, tells Newsmax Health that Belviq and other appetite-suppressing drugs are beneficial but should only be considered after non-medical approaches — involving diet, fitness, and other healthy lifestyle changes — have been tried and proven ineffective.
 
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The take-home message: Be sure to weigh the pros and cons, with a healthcare provider, when trying to decide whether Belviq or other weight-loss strategies are right for you.
 
"As we all know obesity is a serious medical problem and … any way you can get the weight down is important," says Dr. Fujioka. "So If you look at diet and exercise, about 20 percent of patients are going to do well, but another 80 percent may not because, unfortunately, as you are losing weight your body lowers metabolism, it fights weight loss."
 
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Dr. Fujioka notes that Belviq works by affecting the neurotransmitter serotonin — a chemical in the brain that affects mood and feelings of "fullness" after a meal.
 
"When you eat a meal you feel full, you don’t feel like eating any more — that’s the serotonin system being turned on and that’s what Belviq does, so it helps you stay on your diet," he explains. "The new medications that are coming out … lower your food intake."
 
Joe Nadglowski, president of the Obesity Action Coalition, tells Newsmax Health it’s important to consult a health expert, when considering weight-loss medicine.
 
"I really believe what people should do is engage their healthcare provider about their weight. Too often we try to fight this all alone," says Nadglowski. "We don’t recognize that there are tools out there for us. "
 
A weight-loss program should be tailored to an individual’s particular condition and health, to determine whether lifestyle changes will work, or if weight-loss medication or even bariatric surgery are the best options, he says.
 
"If somebody is really heavy, we’ll say two times the normal weight and [has] a lot of medical problems, yeah you’re going to actually start thinking about bariatric surgery," adds Dr. Fujioka. "But for the other patients, now you’re looking at … [working with] your physicians because he’s going to see, OK, we’ve tried diet, we’ve done some exercise, let’s add in the appropriate weight-loss medication."
 
It’s important to come up with a strategy, regardless of whether you’re trying to bring down your overall weight or target particular areas, such as belly fat, which raises the risk of many health problems, he says.
 
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"Belly fat is a tough one and that’s the wrong kind of fat, and that’s the stuff around your middle not the stuff you can grab, but on the inside around your intestines and around your organs and that is more damaging," he explains. "To lose that it takes a combination of things.
 
"One is clearly exercise … and it doesn’t have to be huge; whatever you can do. Diet also is very helpful … and then there are actually medications that we use specifically for belly fat that have to do more with, say, things like diabetes and so forth.  And then you have your standard appetite suppressants which will work and get your calories down enough that will help that belly fat."
 
Federal health statistics show the nation’s obesity rate has doubled over the past 30 years, with approximately one-third of Americans obese and an additional one-third of adults overweight. The American Medical Association voted this week to recognize obesity as a disease and recommended a number of measures to fight it.

Belviq is designed to help individuals who can’t lose or manage weight through diet and fitness alone. Research has shown people using Belviq for a year lost an average of nearly 4 percent more of their total body weight than patients on an inactive placebo. But experts note that, like other diet pills, it poses the risk of possible side effects, including dizziness, fatigue, constipation, hallucinations, and memory loss.

It can also be a problem for individuals already taking a class of antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors that also affect the chemical.
 
"With something like Belviq, which works on the serotonin system, you wouldn’t want to give it to somebody who’s already on another serotonin drug say for depression," Dr. Fujioka notes. "But if somebody is not on that drug and they’re a perfect [candidate for the drug], then they would do well."
 
 

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