Weight loss, in the context of medicine, health, or physical fitness, refers to a reduction of the total body mass, due to a mean loss of fluid, body fat or adipose tissue or lean mass, namely bone mineral deposits, muscle, tendon, and other connective tissue. Weight loss can either occur unintentionally due to malnourishment or an underlying disease or arise from a conscious effort to improve an actual or perceived overweight or obese state. “Unexplained” weight loss that is not caused by reduction in calorific intake or exercise is called cachexia and may be a symptom of a serious medical condition. Intentional weight loss is commonly referred to as slimming.
How do weight-loss medications work?
Prescription medications to treat overweight and obesity work in different ways. For example, some medications may help you feel less hungry or full sooner. Other medications may make it harder for your body to absorb fat from the foods you eat.
Who might benefit from weight-loss medications?
Weight-loss medications are meant to help people who may have health problems related to overweight or obesity. Before prescribing a weight-loss medication, your doctor also will consider
- the likely benefits of weight loss
- the medication’s possible side effects
- your current health issues and other medications
- your family’s medical history
Health care professionals often use BMI to help decide who might benefit from weight-loss medications. Your doctor may prescribe a medication to treat your overweight or obesity if you are an adult with
- a BMI of 30 or more or
- a BMI of 27 or more and you have weight-related health problems, such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.
Weight-loss medications aren’t for everyone with a high BMI. Some people who are overweightor obese may lose weight with a lifestyle program that helps them change their behaviors and improve their eating and physical activity habits. A lifestyle program may also address other factors that affect weight gain, such as eating triggers and not getting enough sleep.
Can children or teenagers take weight-loss medications?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved most weight-loss medications only for adults. The prescription medication orlistat (Xenical) is FDA-approved for children ages 12 and older.