Dangers of Prescription Weight Loss Drugs
If your doctor has recommended losing weight to minimize associated health problems like high blood pressure and sleep apnea, but you struggle to shed pounds through diet and exercise alone, you may consider turning to prescription medications to help you reach your goals. Most prescription weight loss drugs work by making you feel less hungry, though one called orlistat affects the way your body absorbs fat.
For some people, adding weight loss drugs to a sensible fitness and nutrition plan helps them attain and maintain their target weight, but they are not healthy and effective for everyone.
Is Using Ozempic Safe for Weight Loss?
You may have heard that celebrities are turning to the prescription diabetes medicine Ozempic to help them lose weight. Its significant rise in popularity has even created a shortage in some places, causing potential health concerns for people with diabetes who need the drug to manage their chronic condition.
Ozempic is an FDA-approved medication that helps lower blood glucose for people with diabetes. One of its other effects is to suppress appetite and slow down digestion, helping people feel fuller for longer after their meals. Still, the drug’s manufacturers have emphasized that Ozempic is not a weight loss drug, and they do not promote its off-label use for people without diabetes.
Additionally, an April 2022 study showed that after stopping Ozempic, most people regained two-thirds of the weight they had originally lost, and blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other measures of health also returned to their baseline before starting the drug. This research suggests you’d need to keep taking Ozempic indefinitely to keep the weight off and see other long-term health benefits. However, since this drug only earned FDA approval six years ago, there isn’t enough evidence to demonstrate the safety of extended use.
The Link Between Weight Loss Drugs and Disordered Eating
Many people with eating disorders abuse over-the-counter and prescription weight loss medications. These drugs can increase health problems like malnutrition and further complicate already dangerous behaviors such as purging, over-exercise or restrictive eating.
Often, people take diet pills without considering the potential for addiction, but some of these drugs contain stimulants, which are Schedule II controlled substances. Long-term stimulant use can cause a range of adverse effects, including anxiety, panic attacks, seizures, headaches, stomach cramps, aggression and paranoia. In extreme cases, an overdose can occur. Trying to quit or taper off your stimulant use can also lead to withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, fatigue, apathy, body aches and drug cravings.
The risk of developing a co-occurring addiction to weight loss drugs may be higher in people who struggle with eating disorders, since they are more likely to exhibit compulsive and repetitive behavior.
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