What you need to know about weight-loss medicine: Who can take them? Are they safe and effective?

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“There is often an unrealistic expectation that patients with obesity are solely responsible for their own weight, and that diet and exercise are sufficient. We do not see this with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension,” he said.

But here’s the thing: If you’re thinking of going to the general practitioner’s office or polyclinic for some legitimate weight-loss medicines, you might go home empty handed. Here’s why:

WHO CAN BE PRESCRIBED THESE WEIGHT-LOSS MEDICINES?

A potential patient is not someone looking at losing a few kilos to fit into his or her old jeans. “Weight-loss medicines can be prescribed for those with obesity and should be used in conjunction with lifestyle modification via diet and exercise,” said Dr Lee. Obesity is defined as having a Body Mass Index or BMI that is higher than 30.

But if the patient has obesity-related complications such as Type 2 diabetes and hypertension, a BMI greater than 27 would already qualify him or her for the medicines, he said. This could be a 1.7m-tall man weighing 80kg, or a 1.6m-tall woman with 70kg on the scale. (You can calculate your BMI here.)

“I would encourage people living with obesity to seek help from their doctor if they are unable to lose weight on their own, especially if the excess body weight is causing them health problems,” said Dr Lee.

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