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Weight loss drugs are generally prescribed for overweight people who are facing difficulty in losing weight through diet control and exercise regimens. It has been found that people lose almost 10% of their weight by their intake.

Who can take these drugs?

Weight loss drugs are prescribed only for obese people with a BMI of thirty and above or twenty seven and above if they have risk factors like high levels of diabetes and blood pressure. Certain weight loss drugs like Meridia are not prescribed for people with heart related ailments, stroke and high blood pressure. The speed drugs are never prescribed for persons with heart diseases, high blood pressure, overactive thyroid glands and glaucoma.

How do they work?

· Suppressing appetite

Most weight loss drugs work by reducing appetite. Meridia (sibutramine) for instance works on the brain’s appetite control center to give a sense of fullness.

· Reducing fat absorption

Anti-Obesity drugs called lipase inhibitors affect the functioning of lipase- an enzyme that causes absorption of dietary fat- causing a 30% fat absorption blockage. Consequently weight is controlled. Xenical (orlistat) is a lipase inhibitor with prescription strength of 120 mg. Over the counter Alli is Xenical prescribed at half this strength.

· Speedy weight loss

Bontril (phendimetrazine tartrate), Ionamin, Adipex-P (phentermine), and Desoxyn (methamphetamine) are the ‘speed’ drugs that are prescribed for short periods to lead to fast weight loss.

Side effects

Prescription weight loss drugs like Meridia cause rise in heart rate and blood pressure. It may lead to dryness in the mouth, sleeplessness and constipation. Xenical causes cramps, gas, abdomen discomfort, oily stools and diarrhea. The speed drugs lead to only temporary weight losses and have potential for addiction.

Weight loss drugs have harmful side effects, so it is best to resort to a regular exercise regimen and healthy diet to lose weight. These drugs should at the most be taken as supplements only.

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