Obesity Drugs: General Info

News headlines since 2004 are full of the fact that there is an obesity epidemic in the United States. Obesity causes death and also increases the odds for health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease and strokes.

Although obesity can have a genetic factor and stress and socioeconomic factors can add to the problem, obesity is basically caused by eating too many calories of food (especially fatty foods) and getting too little exercise. Nevertheless, some people find it too difficult to diet and exercise at the rate that needs to happen to ensure dramatic amounts of weight loss. For them, obesity drugs may help.

Limitations of obesity drugs
According to studies, clinical trials, and doctors' advice, obesity drugs cannot be effective in bringing about weight loss without an accompanying change to healthy eating and exercise. Obesity drugs without these behavior modifications usually fail to achieve even short-term weight loss more than a few pounds after about three to six months, and the user will almost always fail to maintain the weight loss over the long term.

Another limitation of obesity drugs is that they are rarely tested over long periods of time before being released to the market; thus, we seldom know about the long-term risks associated with using or discontinuing use of such drugs. Most obesity drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been approved for use for less than one year only.

Types of obesity drugs and how they work
The market for obesity drugs includes drugs that require FDA approval and physician prescriptions, as well as over-the-counter drugs. In either case, obesity drugs can be segmented by the way they work. Some work on brain chemicals to reduce appetite either before eating or making the eater feel full earlier while eating. Other obesity drugs are referred to as lipase inhibitors; they work in the stomach and intestines to reduce absorption of fat.

Side effects of obesity drugs
Whether the obesity drug has been approved by the FDA or is an over-the-counter remedy, there will be side effects. These can range from less-drastic health problems such as headaches and dizziness, anxiety and tremors, insomnia, diarrhea or constipation, to more serious problems including raised blood pressure, heart attacks or strokes, and seizures. There are no obesity drugs currently on the market without a set of accompanying side effects.

Obesity drugs not yet on the market
Several obesity drugs currently in clinical trials have been shown to be effective at weight loss but have accompanying side effects such as nausea and are inconvenient - they must be given as an injection or a nasal spray. Because there is a huge mass market for obesity drugs, pharmaceutical companies continue to develop and test new drugs to help obese people lose weight. In the process, they hope to manufacture products that are less harmful to patients and better at controlling appetite.