Sunday, April 7, 2013

Do Weight Loss Pills Really Work? - Qsymia

I think I made it pretty obvious in my last post that I am not a fan of using drugs for weight loss or pretty much anything else.  A key point to be really clear about is that weight loss turns into weight management once you drop those initial unwanted pounds.  Getting them off is one thing, keeping them off is another.  Thus, whatever methods you use to burn it off, you need to continue to use (forever) to keep it off.  Do you really want to be pumping chemicals into your body for the rest of your life?  Be in control, and lose weight the right way - naturally!
 
Ok, I'm off my soapbox...for now.
 
Qsymia is a new weight-loss medication that is available through prescription.  It is a combination of two drugs - phentermine and topiramate.  (Both are FDA-approved and thus considered safe??)  The phentermine helps to reduce appetite by increasing levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter,  in a certain part of the brain which reduces hunger while increasing satiety (a feeling of fullness).  The topiramate, which is typically used to prevent migraine headaches, is thought to affect another neurotransmitter in the brain, though its not exactly clear on how it reduces food intake.
 
In at least two different trials, approximately 62% of the participants who took Qysmia along with proper diet and exercise lost at least 5% of their body weight.  And while that might sound successful to some, it sounds very weak to me.  5% is not that much!  Is it worth flooding your body with chemicals to drop that small amount?  Remember,  the participants also engaged in proper diet and exercise, so it wasn't the pill alone that generated the weight loss.
 
Qysmia like many other drugs,  carries with it certain risks with birth defects being at the top of the list.  It's been shown to increase the risk of cleft lip and palate.  It can also slow down brain function and increase heart rate.  In fact, the effects on potential heart attack and stroke aren't clear at this point.  And though its been approved by the FDA, its worth noting that it has not been approved by European Regulators.
 
But who am I to judge, I understand the desperation that many feel when it comes to losing weight.  However, it doesn't make sense (to me) to take on potentially new health problems while trying to fix an existing one - unless of course a well-versed Physician is guiding the process.
 
Think about this - if you weigh 350 pounds and lost 5% of your weight over one year it would only be 17.5 pounds.  Is a drug worth that? 
 
On the other hand, if you cut out 250 calories of eating per day and increased your calorie burn by 250 calories per day (via a 2 mile walk) you could easily lose a pound a week which could potentially turn into 52 pounds in a year. (In theory...)
 
I know it works, because I have done it on a bigger scale.  So my point is simply that you must always look beyond the allure of a so-called magic pill and focus on the big picture when it comes to weight loss.  Most people have failed because of unrealistic expectations and bad choices.  When done the right way, its not nearly as difficult as it might seem right now.

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