Appetite suppressants and other prescription "weight loss" pills are usually prescribed by doctors as the starting point for a weight loss when all other endeavors have been exhausted without result. Diet and exercise are the original starting points for weight loss, but oftentimes women, especially postmenopausal women, struggle with shedding and keeping off the pounds. Most often, weight loss starts with small changes: eating more fruits and vegetables rather than meats and carbohydrates, exercising different parts of the body and maintaining a healthy mental outlook on your weight. That should always be the basis of weight loss, as eating fresh, wholesome foods and making your body sweat is the most holistic way toward a slimmer physique.
Most appetite suppressant drugs have strict standards for who should be using them, but some can be bought over the counter. The majority of weight-loss medications that are FDA approved are classified as appetite suppressants. Those drugs are usually available for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or greater, and who are put at a serious medical risk (diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol) because of their obesity.
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An appetite suppressant does just what it says: suppresses the appetite to enhance the feeling of being full, thereby ensuring that the person does not overeat. But the dangers of appetite suppressants have been mulled over many times. The National Center for Biotechnology Information cites that some appetite suppressants, such as Aminorex, have been shown to cause pulmonary hypertension (a lung disorder associated with high blood pressure). Secondary hypertension, stroke, psychiatric disorders, heart attacks and seizures have all been previously linked to some appetite suppressants (namely Ephedra and Phenylpropanolamine, which have both been removed from the market).
In 2012, the FDA approved Belviq and Qsymia, two appetite suppressants that are recommended for responsible use by Americans with high BMIs. Both drugs are not approved in Europe because the European Medicines Agency does not believe the limited benefits outweigh the wide array of side effects: dizziness, fatigue, depression, even potential heart attacks and stroke. Studies done by the FDA showed that people taking Belviq for a year can only expect to lose 3 to 3.7 percent of their weight, oftentimes regaining some of that weight back in the second year. Curtis J. Rosebraugh, the director of the FDA's Office of Drug Evaluation even said on the agency's website about Belviq that "a small proportion of patients may achieve impressive and probably quite important weight loss. Unfortunately, this will not be the experience of the majority of users." There is also the potential for the user to become dependent on the drug, or, if the person has been on the drug for a while, might need to constantly increase the dosage to get the same effects.
When considering an appetite suppressant or other weight loss drug, your doctor should always be the voice of reason. While there are many success stories associated with these appetite suppressants, the success of the drugs cannot be all encompassing. Trying to lose weight is frustrating, because the results are not immediate. But always start with diet and exercise, and move forward with other options from there. But, as always, be aware that no drug will ever be the magic weight-loss cure.