What to Discuss with Your Doctor Before Choosing Weight-Loss Medication

Before choosing weight-loss medication for the long-term management of obesity, you should talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have. In addition, it is important that you discuss the following issues with your doctor.

How will I be evaluated to determine if I am an appropriate candidate for weight-loss medication?

Your physician will look at a number of factors to determine if you are a good candidate for prescription weight-loss medication. He or she will determine how overweight you are and where your body fat is distributed (see WIN's fact sheet Understanding Adult Obesity for further information). Your doctor may do the following:

  • Take a careful medical history and perform a physical examination.
  • Look at your personal weight history.
  • Ask whether you have relatives with illnesses related to overweight, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus or heart disease.
  • Discuss the methods you have used to lose weight in the past.
  • Evaluate your risk for obesity-related health problems by measuring your blood pressure and doing blood tests.

If your doctor determines that you have obesity-related health problems or are at high risk for such problems, and if you have been unable to lose weight or maintain weight loss with nondrug treatment, he or she may recommend that you use prescription weight-loss medications. Weight-loss medications may be appropriate for carefully selected patients who are at significant medical risk because of their obesity. They are not recommended for people who are only mildly overweight unless they have health problems that are made worse by their weight. These medications should not be used only to improve appearance.

What other medical conditions or medications might influence my decision to take a weight-loss medication?

It is important that you notify your physician if you have any of the following medical conditions:

  • Pregnancy or breast-feeding
  • History of drug or alcohol abuse
  • History of an eating disorder
  • History of depression or manic depressive disorder
  • Use of monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors or antidepressant medications
  • Migraine headaches requiring medication
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease or heart condition, such as an irregular heart beat
  • High blood pressure
  • Planning to have surgery that requires general anesthesia

What type of program will be provided along with the medication to help me improve my eating and physical activity habits?

Studies show that weight-loss medications work best when combined with a weight-management program that helps you improve your eating and physical activity habits. Ask your doctor any questions or concerns that you may have about good nutrition and physical activity.


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