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The truth about new obesity drugs: Separating fact from fiction

| Healthy You | Weight Loss

Weight loss medication injection.

Do these medications live up to the hype?

Headline after headline, everyone is talking about weight loss drugs. Some claim that it is the miracle solution to obesity. Others say that it should be something to worry about because of severe and unexpected side effects in some cases. So, what’s the truth? 

Like a lot of things, it’s complicated.  

Many people are concerned with managing their weight and the health risks that may come with it. For some, diet and exercise alone may not be possible. This is where the new class of weight-loss drugs may come into play. 

Some of these weight-loss medicines help reduce your appetite by slowing down the digestive tract (stomach, intestines). Others may prevent some of the fat calories from being absorbed in your intestines.  

The medicines also vary between a daily or weekly injection or oral tablet. 

These medications — originally studied for diabetes treatment — show promise for people who carry extra weight, especially when traditional approaches haven’t worked for them. According to a study by JAMA Network, 175 patients who were overweight or obese saw a total body weight loss of 5.9% at three months and 10.9% at six months. 

But these medicines do not guarantee weight loss for everyone, and they come with their own set of considerations. These include your health history, lifestyle, ability to manage side effects and more.  

How do you know if semaglutide medications like Wegovy or Ozempic are right for you, and whether the risks are worth it? 

With new information coming out all the time, it’s important to talk with an informed healthcare provider. They can help you see if weight-loss meds make sense for you and offer guidance on how to use them safely. 

“Your provider should know or inquire about personal or family history of thyroid disease/cancer, pancreatic conditions, gastroparesis, constipation, endocrine cancers,” said Diana Tiganus, MD, PeaceHealth family medicine with obstetrics. 

Other weight loss options may include bariatric surgery. This is a weight loss surgery that makes your stomach smaller or changes the way your intestines connect and absorb food.  

Additionally, the PeaceHealth Weight Loss for Life Program helps you learn healthy lifestyle skills to support long-term health. 

“Maintaining a healthy weight involves more than just medication or surgery,” says Dr. Tiganus. “[It] involves knowing your body and your limits well. Knowing what realistic lifestyle changes you can make to optimize nutrition, sustain regular physical activity, reduce stress and improve sleep.” 

In the end, the key to success lies in a holistic approach to health and well-being. 

portrait of Diana M. Tiganus MD

Diana M. Tiganus MD

Family Medicine - Obstetrics

Diana M. Tiganus MD practices Family Medicine in Vancouver.