All you need to know about anti-obesity drugs.

Anti-obesity drugs are medications designed to help individuals manage or reduce weight by affecting various physiological processes. They may work by suppressing appetite, reducing absorption of nutrients, or increasing metabolism.

History of Anti-Obesity Drugs

Early attempts with amphetamines in the mid-20th century showed promise but faced safety concerns. The notorious fen-phen combination gained popularity in the 1990s but was later withdrawn due to serious cardiac risks. In 1999, orlistat, a drug inhibiting fat absorption, was approved. While it demonstrated some effectiveness, it came with notable side effects, including gastrointestinal discomfort. More recent entries to the scene include lorcaserin and the combination of phentermine and topiramate. However, these drugs exhibit varying efficacy and safety profiles, underlining the challenges in finding a one-size-fits-all solution. One key player in the anti-obesity drug arena is Orlistat. It works by preventing the absorption of fat in the digestive system and promoting weight loss. However, its side effects, including oily stools and flatulence, can be off-putting for some individuals.

Types Of Anti-Obesity Drugs

Appetite Suppressants (e.g., Phentermine):

Mechanism: Phentermine is a stimulant that works as an appetite suppressant by affecting the central nervous system, and reducing hunger signals

Usage: It’s typically prescribed for short-term use in combination with lifestyle changes to promote weight loss.

Fat Absorption Inhibitors (e.g., Orlistat):

Mechanism: Orlistat inhibits pancreatic lipase, an enzyme that breaks down dietary fat, reducing the absorption of fats in the digestive system.

Usage: It’s taken with meals, and its effects are focused on reducing caloric intake from fat.

Combination Drugs (e.g., Phentermine/Topiramate):

Mechanism: Phentermine/topiramate combines an appetite suppressant (phentermine) with an antiepileptic drug (topiramate) to impact both appetite and metabolism.

Usage: It is prescribed to individuals with a BMI that indicates obesity, in combination with lifestyle changes.

GLP-1 Receptor Agonists (e.g., Liraglutide, Semaglutide – Ozempic):

Mechanism: GLP-1 receptor agonists mimic the effects of the natural hormone GLP-1, reducing appetite and slowing digestion, leading to weight loss.

Usage: Originally developed for diabetes, medications like Liraglutide and Ozempic have been approved for weight management as well.

These drugs are typically prescribed based on an individual’s health conditions, and their use should be closely monitored by healthcare professionals due to potential side effects and interactions. Additionally, they are usually recommended alongside lifestyle changes for more effective and sustainable weight management.

The journey of anti-obesity drugs reflects the ongoing quest for effective solutions to a pressing health issue. While progress has been made, challenges persist, highlighting the need for further research and development. As we navigate this landscape, it’s crucial to approach these medications with realistic expectations, understanding that they work best when combined with a healthy lifestyle.

Article by Krish Rangwala | Edited by Saumya Sharma