By this time we are all probably well-acquainted with the concept of obesity. Obesity is defined as a complex disease that involves an excess of body fat which may lead to other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. The World Health Organization defines obesity as an individual with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. The numbers don’t seem to be slowing down, though, as the WHO also reports obesity increasing to epidemic levels, and the Philippines isn’t exempted from this. As a result, measures to counter obesity are reiterated with hopes of seeing the obesity statistics go down. While we know of lesser food intake and physical activity, there is another way to control and regulate weight.
The Philippines has four FDA-approved weight loss medications, namely phentermine, phentermine+topiramate, liraglutide, and orlistat. With the local obesity numbers on the rise, weight management medications are a great aid to control weight and avoid its health complications. Weight loss medicines vary in every aspect from their pros and cons to their side effects. Read below to get more details on these medications.
Phentermine (Adipex-P) c/o GoodRx
Phentermine is a prescription medication that acts as an appetite suppressant and is amphetamine-like in nature. It decreases appetite by prolonging the feeling of satiety and is ideally used as part of an overall weight-loss plan. Take note that phentermine is prescribed only for obese people who are unable to lose weight and must not be used by individuals in the normal BMI range seeking to simply shed a few pounds
Phentermine’s side effects include headaches, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, insomnia, dry mouth, constipation, anxiety, palpitations, and tachycardia. On the positive side, phentermine is known for being inexpensive and results in greater weight loss. Its downsides lie mostly in the side effects.
Orlistat c/o Everyday Health
Orlistat or better known by its trade name Xenical, is another known prescription medication for treating obesity. Orlistat is used together with a weight loss program and even after the individual has lost weight in order to prevent regaining it. It belongs to a class of medications known as lipase inhibitors which prevent the fat in food from being absorbed in the intestines.
Orlistat’s side effects include steatorrhea, oily spotting, increased defecation, decreased absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. In some cases it can cause hives, rashes, itching, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty in breathing and swallowing. Orlistat’s advantages include affordability and being nonsystemic. There is, however, less weight loss reported when using this medication.
The chart above shows the comparative efficacy rate of weight loss medications within a year's worth of usage. According to the chart, three kinds of Phentermine/Topiramate have the highest weight loss efficacy rates with Phentermine (Munro et.al) coming in next.
Liraglutide (Saxenda) c/o Canadian Insulin
Liraglutide or better known as Victoza is an anti-diabetic drug that can also be used to treat obesity when taken together with an overall weight loss plan. Its other brand, Saxenda, can also be used by individuals with a BMI of 30 and above or children at least 12 years old who weigh more than 60 kg. Saxenda can also be used with individuals who fit the above criteria and are experiencing certain health conditions. Saxenda is not an appetite suppressant.
Liraglutide’s side effects include nausea, vomiting, hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes, diarrhea, constipation, and headaches. Take note to not use Saxenda and Victoza together and to refrain from usage when you have a history of thyroid cancer. Liraglutide is known to have a good side effect profile along with long-term data, however, it is known for being quite pricey and is taken as an injectable.
Phentermine+Topiramate (Qysmia) c/o Verywell Fit
By this point, we are all probably acquainted with phentermine, but did you know that phentermine can also be taken together with topiramate? Phentermine+topiramate capsules help adults suffering from obesity lose weight, coupled with reduced food intake and exercise. Phentermine is an anorectic which decreases appetite while topiramate belongs to the anticonvulsant group of medications. The result of these two working together is a reduced appetite and an extended feeling of fullness. Phentermine+topiramate is an oral capsule that can be taken with or without food once a day in the morning.
Phentermine+topiramate has side effects including headache, dizziness, numbness, excessive fatigue, and dryness in the mouth. This obesity medication is also known to have quite an effect on the individual’s mental health such as suicide ideation, irritability, anxiety, and depression. On the plus side, phentermine+topiramate is known for robust weight loss results and long-term effectivity, however, it is quite expensive and considered to be teratogenic or can cause fetal abnormality when used by pregnant women.
Weight management and countering obesity is more than just for appearance's sake. It is a means of helping our bodies stay healthy and ensure that we get the most out of life by living it to our highest potential. Seek consultation prior to trying any obesity medication, diet, or exercise regimen as it is safer to have a health and lifestyle professional’s sound advice before partaking in your life and health-changing journey.
*All these obesity-countering medications are available in pharmacies. Phentermine and topiramate must be ordered from a compounding pharmacy.