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When Your Doctor Prescribes Weight Loss

When your health’s at risk, it’s time to get serious.

Weight Loss for Health Reasons: What Are the Options?

When you need to lose 50 pounds or more, it can seem like an impossible task. While weight loss isn’t easy, the good news is that there are a number of ways you can successfully work toward your goal.

Diet and Exercise

“The best technique for losing weight is to lower your calories, but not too low, and to increase your physical activity with a starting goal of 30 minutes at least five days a week, increasing to 60 minutes,” Smithson tells WebMD. “This is the foundation of losing weight.”

Whether you’ve tried to lose weight in the past or this is your first attempt at weight loss, it is helpful to consult a registered dietitian for advice on the types and amounts of foods you should eat. A dietitian will work with you to design an individualized diet program that works for your lifestyle, preferences, and health needs. Some dietitians will even make trips to your home to help you create a home environment that can help you lose weight.  

If you’d rather not consult a dietitian, or if your insurance won’t cover the visit, there are other options available, including commercial weight loss programs. If you choose to go this route, experts recommend choosing a program that has proven successful for many people and is backed by scientific evidence. These types of programs will also provide you with a supportive community of people who are also working toward weight loss.

Regardless of the food program you choose to follow, remember that exercise is just as important as diet for weight loss. Before beginning your exercise program, be sure to consult with your doctor to make sure the activities you’re planning on are safe for you. While joining a gym or your local YMCA is a great option, remember that walking is a great way to get exercise – and it’s something you can do anywhere.

“I recommend that people get a pedometer,” Apovian tells WebMD.  “People should try to do 4 miles a day for weight loss, or about 10,000 steps.”

Medications for Weight Loss

While there aren’t any medications that cause weight to fall off overnight, there are some prescription drugs available that may help a bit with your weight loss.

“The medications we currently have can help you lose about 10% of your body weight,” Apovian says. These include sibutramine, a medicine that helps control appetite, and orlistat, which helps block the absorption of some fats and vitamins. Orlistat is available in both prescription and over-the-counter formations.

There are also many drugs in the pharmaceutical pipeline that may be more effective than currently available ones, enabling people to lose 15% to 17% of their body weight.

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