The FDA approved two new drugs in the fight against obesity–the first drugs approved in thirteen years. The last drug that was approved is Xenical which is an over-the-counter drug known as Alli which is a fat blocking drug. Since that time, the FDA has taken the drug Meridia off the market because of concerns about heart disease and an increased risk of heart attack.

The latest drugs Belviq and Qsymia have known side effects and are limited in their use for people who have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 27 which is about 30 pounds overweight, who in addition have diabetes or heart disease or they are for people who are obese with a BMI of 30 or over. Both drugs have significant side effects. The side effects for Qsymia which is a combination drug of Phentermine and Topamax include difficulty thinking including problems with attention, concentration, memory and word finding. It is absolutely contraindicated for women who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant because of the high incidence of cleft lip and cleft palate seen in births from that drug. Belviq is related to the drug Fenfluramine with was taken off the market in 1997 (part of the popular combination of Phen Phen) because of problems with heart valves. There are still concerns and the company is planning ongoing trials.

What’s our view of these drugs? It’s very simple. These drugs are an adjunct to help people lose weight. But the real change people have to make is with their lifestyle. What they eat. How they eat. If they don’t cook, learning how to cook. If they cook, perhaps leaning to cook differently. Without lifestyle changes these are simply drugs with a risk but no benefit. They do not provide long term weight loss. They provide short term weight loss when combined with a diet and exercise program. If you plan on losing weight, the first thing you ought to think about  is diet and exercise. These drugs for their indications you may lose five to seven percent of your excess weight. If you don’t lose weight within three months, you should stop taking the drug. Again long term studies for heart disease from taking these drugs are ongoing. So, when you consider taking drugs to lose weight they may be an answer in rare instances when individuals are obese and overweight and have other conditions (comorbidities) and need a boost. But without changes in lifestyle, these drugs are simply a part of yo-yo dieting.

Weight loss Drugs have side effects

Belviq and Qsymia have serious side effects as do most powerful drugs. Drug therapy is a miracle and we have the drug manufacturers to thank for many years of extended life after many serious diagnoses. But typically continuous drug therapies are intended for people who are facing life threatening illness and usually toward the end of life. When you see an ad for a medicine on television they typically come with a warning about damages such as liver damage. These medicines are typically for people entering the geriatric phase of life. Are there drugs that do not damage or minimally damage your body – not many. Aspirin and other NSAIDs can damage your kidneys. Tylenol can seriously damage your liver (especially combined with alcohol consumption). So it is safe to say that the best medicines are stress reduction, diet and exercise. But it is interesting that many surgeries can result in complete cures or resolutions to many serious health problems. Heart valve replacement surgery is an amazing example of a surgical procedure that saves many lives daily. Not too long ago a damaged heart valve was very frequently a death sentence. Now a person can have a valve replacement done using minimally invasive surgery. Typically, heart valve replacement results in a complete restoration of normal heart function. Heart valve replacement patients can recover quickly and completely and live normal lives. It is a miracle.  The cure may be so complete patients can even become athletes. Don’t get this wrong. There are many nonsurgical cures that are amazing. This is not about a weight loss surgeon saying bariatric surgery is always the best cure. Physical therapy can completely resolve many Musculoskeletal  issues in lieu of surgery. We are just saying that if you can avoid taking medicines with side effects – you should.

Belviq and Qsymia side effects are too risky

The latest weight loss surgeries are better for long term weight reduction than present day drugs. Do you really want to play with your mental cognition? Do you want to take a drug so powerful that it can deform an infant’s palate? Even though heart valves are replaceable, do you want to chance having to get a new one?  As Dr. Simpson said, this type of medicine may be okay for a short term resolution to help cure other medical problems. But Belviq and Qsymia side effects are serious and these drugs are just entering the market.  The long term prospect is yet to be known. Why chance taking a drug with known side effects? One that cannot give you long term weight loss.

Lose weight with diet and exercise – it really works with real knowledge and effort!

Most people can achieve long term weight loss without bariatric surgery or drugs. You should only get weight loss surgery after legitimately failing using diet and exercise. Most importantly, you should only get Lap-band or Gastric Plication weight loss surgery after you have had professional guidance with diet and exercise. Dr. Simpson is a master cook and dietitian. Professionals like Dr. Simpson and his associates will show you satisfying ways to prepare and eat decadent low calorie foods you never dreamed possible. The most typical response we get from weight loss surgery patients is pure amazement at just how good a low calorie diet can be. A world of low calorie indulgence is possible with a little research or professional guidance. It’s a matter of getting real – putting down the chips and lattes and learning what low glycemic really means.

People who are overweight due to being sedentary frequently have proven to themselves over their lifetime that exercise can’t work for them. With dedicated purpose, they seek to prove what can’t fail (exercise) will fail just for them. Exercise cannot fail. You  can only fail to exercise or fail to exercise properly. If you exercise you will burn more calories. That’s the way life works. Unfortunately achieving visible results with exercise is a long term game. You will typically see the results of exercise after three months – but it may take longer. Typically you should make a three year commitment to a program designed for you by a competent and experienced exercise professional. At the end of that time, doing exercise correctly with progressive intensity (to a point) and diversity, you will be a more muscular and much thinner person (given you eat responsibly). Most people don’t need weight loss surgery. They just need to quit proving to themselves diet and exercise won’t work. There are people who are genetically predisposed to be overweight. But they are a small minority.