Weight loss pills are a valuable weapon in fighting obesity, based on recent findings that confirm the safety and efficacy of five weight loss drugs approved by the FDA.
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this study analyzed data on five prescription weight loss medications to see which was safest and most effective. Medications included orlistat, lorcaserin, naltrexone-bupropion, phentermine-topiramate, and liraglutide, all of which are FDA-approved for the management of obesity.
The analysis included 28 clinical trials that compared any of the weight loss drugs to inactive placebo drugs in overweight or obese adults. Together, the analysis included more than 29,000 patients, all of which were followed for at least a year during the intervention.
The good news is that all five drugs were more effective than placebo in promoting weight loss after a year. Only 23% of participants taking the placebo lost at least 5% of their body weight after a year, compared to 44–75% of adults taking weight loss drugs. On average, participants taking weight loss pills lost anywhere from 3–19 pounds more than those taking a placebo.
However, certain weight loss drugs were more effective than others. Overall, phentermine-topiramate and liraglutide were the most effective in helping patients lose 5% of their body weight. Patients taking phentermine-topiramate were 9 times more likely to lose 5% of their weight, and patients taking liraglutide were nearly 6 times more likely to achieve this goal compared to placebo.
However, authors also note that patients taking liraglutide and naltrexone-bupropion were the most likely to stop taking medication due to side effects or adverse events.
Still, findings confirm that prescription weight loss pills are both safe and effective for overweight and obese patients. Combined with lifestyle changes and behavioral interventions, medication may be a valuable treatment option for patients struggling with weight loss. And liraglutide and phentermine-topiramate may be the most effective option among all five FDA-approved pills.
However, authors note that more research is needed to assess the long-term impact of weight loss medication. Although the recent analysis was large with more than 29,000 patients, it only included results after one year. With more extensive research, experts hope to better understand the long-term safety and efficacy of medication for the management of obesity.