The keys to successful weight loss

The treatment for obesity is weight loss, and there are a number of ways to achieve that, including:

  • Diet and lifestyle changes
  • Prescription medicines
  • Weight-loss surgery

For adults, particularly those using diet and lifestyle modifications to lose weight, the following are generally considered realistic goals:

  • Aim to lose 5 to 10 percent of your body weight over six months.
  • Lose weight slowly, at a rate of no more than 1 to 2 pounds a week.
  • Once you’ve lost 10 percent of your body weight, focus your efforts on keeping it off before attempting further weight loss.

 

Obesity and Lifestyle Modifications

Overeating is a major contributor to obesity, and some of the most common reasons for overeating include:

  • Fatigue
  • Boredom
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Feeling happy or wanting to celebrate
  • Eating too fast
  • Eating mindlessly, or without paying attention to what you’re eating
  • Eating to please someone else or to fit in with a social group
  • Trying to follow a too-strict diet
  • Going too long between meals and getting overly hungry

Lifestyle modifications that can help to address these reasons and help with weight loss include:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Becoming aware of the habits and/or emotions that lead you to overeat
  • Being mindful of how hungry or how full you are before, during, and after you eat
  • Following a healthy diet that provides enough calories and enough variety
  • Choosing foods that are high in water and/or fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes
  • Engaging in regular physical activity
  • Joining an in-person or online weight-loss support organization

 

Obesity Medications

Only a few prescription drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the long-term treatment of obesity.

These drugs include:

  • Belviq (lorcaserin)
  • Contrave (naltrexone/bupropion)
  • Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate)
  • Xenical (orlistat, also available as a lower-dose, over-the-counter product called Alli)

Xenical is approved for use in adolescents and adults; the other three drugs are approved for use in adults only.

Each of these drugs works differently and has different side effects. Choosing which to try is a decision best made with input from your doctor.

The average amount of weight lost as a consequence of using one of these drugs ranges from 3 to 9 percent of body weight.

In studies, use of Qsymia results in more weight loss than any of the other three.

In all cases, weight-loss medications are intended to be used along with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity, and their effects stop when the drug is stopped.

Some other weight-loss drugs are approved for short-term use, but their usefulness is limited, because most people regain the weight they lost when they stop using the drugs.