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The Belly Fat Burden: Reducing Your Waist Circumference

When diet and exercise aren't helping you lose belly fat, medications and surgery may do the job.

To Lose Belly Fat -- What Else Works?

The diabetes drug Byetta is also showing great promise in weight loss, says Eisenson. "I know that diabetologists are very excited about this drug for the overweight diabetic."

Byetta delays "gastric emptying" -- essentially keeping food in the intestine a bit longer, so you feel full longer, he explains. Patients taking Byetta don't need as much insulin, a good thing, since insulin can increase appetite, Eisenson explains. Low-grade nausea is a side effect, which may help curb appetite, too.

Other types of medications have been investigated for weight loss, but have not shown much promise: the antidepressant Wellbutrin, the antiseizure drug Topamax, and the diabetes medication Glucophage. "The weight loss effect with all those is pretty modest," says Eisenson.

Over-the-Counter Products for Belly Fat

As for "Ultimate Fat Burner" and similar over-the-counter products, "I pretty much dismiss all of them with a broad stroke," Eisenson says. "Their great catchy names don't correspond with the reality. When there is effectiveness, it's very modest indeed -- and not enough to justify the cost."

There are safety concerns with these products, he adds. "Because they're not FDA regulated, you don't know about their strength and purity. A lot of these products are jam-packed with plant and herbal ingredients. You don't know really what you're getting -- how much is in there. There's the potential for interaction with prescriptions people are taking."

Also, there are concerns about stroke and heart attack risk, Eisenson tells WebMD. "Some of these products have a stimulant effect that may cause appetite suppression but also stimulates the cardiovascular system. The bottom line I tell my patients: I don't think any of these products can be recommended."

Bariatric Surgery: Belly Fat's Last Resort

For many people, bariatric weight loss surgery is a good option as a last resort, says Eisenson. These procedures can shrink the stomach's volume so people feel full sooner and lose weight. Bariatric surgeries (also called gastric bypass) can also reduce the absorption of nutrients, causing weight loss.

"If your back is against the wall, you're suffering from health problems, and your quality of life is significantly compromised, it's an appropriate option," he tells WebMD. "If you're unable to achieve meaningful and lasting weight loss through nonsurgical measures, you owe it to yourself to consider bariatric surgery."

One study looked at 197 obese people who underwent gastric bypass surgery. It compared their weight loss and risk factors to a similar group of obese patients who did not have the procedure. Everyone was on a strict diet and exercise program to help them lose weight.

At the end of three years, there were striking differences. The surgery group lost an average of 77 pounds, while the others barely lost any weight. Also, LDL cholesterol levels dropped 40 points, body mass index dropped 15 points, and 19% fewer people had diabetes. Their need for cholesterol-lowering medication dropped by 61%, too.

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