There is a global epidemic of obesity and it now taken more seriously than ever before, considering widespread research studies have shown the link between obesity and many diseases including diabetes, high cholesterol levels, arthritis, cancer and heart disease. However, as any chronic dieter knows, it is not easy to lose weight and that is why there are innumerable diets in the market as well as dieting products and foods.
Unfortunately, drugs for dieting have had limited effects. Almost all dieting drugs have to be doctor prescribed and you have to follow the diet the doctor gives you as well, since there is no pill as yet that will magically melt away the fat and the excess weight without your making any effort. As yet diet pills only work in conjunction with diet and exercise and their effects are mainly as appetite suppressants along with some laxative and stimulating effects. Many older diet pills have also been pulled off the market previously because of serious side effects.
The diet medicines available and under trials
Most doctors will only prescribe diet medication if you are seriously overweight and need to lose at least 35 pounds or you also have another medical condition and need medical help to lose weight. Among the diet pills that can help you in your weight loss quest are:
Xenical by Roche – Also known as Orlical, this medicine works in a different way totally. It stops the digestion of fat in the stomach and intestines and this is passed out by the body without being digested. However, it only works on 25 percent of the fat, so it’s not like you can eat as much of fatty foods as you want. You can lose 5-7 pounds more with this pill than simply by diet and exercise alone, but that only after you have taken it for a year or two. But it has extremely inconvenient side effects as it can cause greater bowel motility, gas, sometimes diarrhea or even a leaky gut and oily stools and you ought to eliminate or reduce fat in your diet when you take Xenical. While this is available only via prescription, an over the counter version which has a reduced dosage called Alli also works in conjunction with diet and exercise and other natural weight loss methods.
Qsymia by Vivus – This is a mixture of the old drug phentermine, an appetite suppressant combined with topiramate, a drug used for seizures. Together these work to help you lose weight, but if you don’t lose at least three percent weight within three months, your doctor will either stop the drug or increase its dosage depending on your other parameters. The drug has side effects like increased heart rate, dizziness, insomnia, tingling in hands and feet and sometimes it can cause depression like symptoms and even suicidal thoughts – so taking is drug is not without its risks.
Belviq by Arena Pharmaceuticals – Also known as Locaserin, this drug affects the chemicals in your brain, making you feel full, so basically it is appetite suppressant. It is a fairly new drug, having just received FDA approval in 2012. You ought to lose at least five percent of your body weight after three weeks, otherwise the drug simply does not work and should be stopped. It can cause nausea, headaches, constipation, tiredness and also rarely psychiatric problems, suicidal thoughts and memory problems.
Contrave by Orexigen – Currently undergoing phase III clinical trials, this combination of bupropion and naltrexone work together and have an effect on the hypothalamus. It increases dopamine activity in the brain, reduces appetite, increases metabolism and decreases food cravings. In trials, patients who followed a diet and exercise program were split into two groups, one of which was given by Contrave and the other a placebo. The ones who got the drug lost significantly more weight than those who took the placebo. Side effects include nausea, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, insomnia and dry mouth. More studies are ongoing and the drug is also undergoing trials for cardiovascular problems. It may get FDA approval in 2014.
Beloranib by Zafgen – This is still in the experimental stage but a small trial showed that people actually lost weight – as much as 22 pounds in three months. Besides this, the drug had a positive effect by reducing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the blood. It is supposed to work by controlling appetite in the brain by inhibiting an enzyme MetAP2 that regulates fatty acids. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and insomnia. The second trial phase is ongoing, though preliminary results are in and what is more important that the person taking this drug does not need to diet or exercise, which would be a boon for dieters who loathe both.
Victoza by Novo Nordisk – the company has conducted a third phase IIIa trial to see whether this drug, approved for diabetes, also works for weight loss in people who don’t have diabetes. The study, on 3,731 people showed that 64 percent patients who were on Victoza lost at least 10 percent weight when compared with 27 percent of people on a placebo. Other trials will be completed before the end of the year and the company hopes to file for approval by the end of this year. For diabetes treatment, the drug is taken in a low dose, but for obesity, it needs to be taken in a higher dose.
Meanwhile in Australia a growth hormone called AOD 9604 made by Metabolic Pharmaceuticals is undergoing human trials as a drug to battle obesity. This drug works by increasing the metabolic rate, so burning off excess calories. However, if this drug does work as it should, it may mean that it will be useful for patients who want to lose weight initially, but they will have to still watch what they eat unless they want to be on the drug for the rest of their lives.
Apart from these there are a range of health and diet pills and supplements that are widely available and of questionable value, though some do have their fans.