Washington state health leaders suggest that the use of prescription medications for weight loss should be decided on a case-by-case basis and should be up to the primary doctor. The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that nearly one in three Americans are overweight, and two out of five are obese. While prescription meds can work wonders for weight loss, they’re not necessarily a cure, and obesity can require lifelong treatment. Some doctors suggest surgery as a good way to treat the complex disease, as it can allow for changes to the stomach and intestine, which can enable someone to feel full faster.
As seen on a recent report from Washington state health leaders, the debate over the effectiveness of prescription medications for weight loss is ongoing. Experts say that it’s a case-by-case basis and should be up to the primary doctor to assess the patient’s metabolic health and bloodwork before prescribing any medication.
Dr. Laura Montour, Co-Director at UW Medicine’s Center for Weight Loss and Metabolic Surgery, emphasizes the importance of talking to a primary care provider first and getting assessed for underlying conditions before considering weight management options. She says, “I think it’s important that that is one of the first discussions.”
The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that nearly one in every three Americans is considered overweight, while another two out of five are considered obese. While prescription medications can work wonders for weight loss, they are not necessarily a cure. Physicians say that obesity can require life-long treatment, and treating it isn’t just cosmetic.
Doctors in the field work to treat underlying and co-existing conditions based on the patient’s needs. Some believe that surgery is a good way to treat the complex disease, allowing for changes to the stomach and intestine, which can help someone feel full faster.
Dr. Judy Chen, a Bariatric Surgeon at UW Medicine, explains that it’s important for patients to feel comfortable with the treatment options available. She says, “With obesity, there are a lot of complexities. And so surgery does require someone to understand that there are going to be anatomical changes to the stomach, in the intestine, that allow for someone to feel full, to change some of the hormones that really are important in obesity treatment.”
Doctors agree that there’s no one path to treating obesity. Montour says, “Patients really need to understand that it’s not necessarily one path or the other: you have your medication, or you have surgery. Surgical and medical treatment for obesity actually intertwines quite significantly. And patients who may have surgery may also use medications as well. We just know so much more about the complexity of this disease that multiple tools sometimes are required.”
If you’re considering weight loss treatment options, it’s important to talk to your primary care provider first and get assessed for underlying conditions. The CDC offers more information on treatment options for weight loss, and it’s important to understand that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The best treatment plan will depend on the patient’s individual needs and circumstances.