With one third of the American population weighing in as obese, drug manufacturers are working on medications to help the heaviest people shed pounds. There are two medications on the market now that have recently been approved by the Food & Drug Administration.
63-year-old Lee Willeford is proud of his steady weight loss since January. "I'm down 36 pounds since the first of the year," he said.
Throughout his adult years, Willeford says he has tried every diet. "I've done the high protein, I've done the carbo diets, I've done Atkins, the all veggie, all juice," he said.
When he got into his 60s, Willeford says his age and added weight made exercising more difficult. That is why he decided to see Dr. Muhammad Jadoon with Lake Area Internal Medicine to learn more about serious weight loss options. "There are a lot of people who want to lose weight," said Dr. Jadoon, "and if you can give them the initial support that they need, I think we can change lives."
Dr. Jadoon says there are three FDA approved weight loss medications on the market. The oldest is a short-term appetite suppressant called phentermine.
Then there is Qsymia, the first long-term use weight loss drug that is a combination of phentermine and a seizure medication called topiramate.
Finally: Belviq, that affects the serotonin receptors in the brain. "It works in the brain and gives you early satiety," said Dr. Jadoon, "you feel like you are full earlier."
Willeford was prescribed Qsymia, a once-a-day tablet that controls his appetite. "It shuts down your desire that says 'I'm hungry, I'm starving, I want to go eat,'" said Willeford.
Healthy diet and exercise plans lead to the most success with these medications and Willeford says he holds himself accountable with that each day. "I feel great," he said, "I feel better now than I have in 10 years."
These drugs are not safe for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. The most common side effects are dizziness, sleeplessness, dry mouth and headache.