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How do I know if I Need Weight Loss Medication?

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

Weight loss can be a challenging and elusive goal for many. Medication can help in reaching those goals, but when is it right for you? While the answer isn’t simple, there are a few steps you can follow to help decide if adding a medication to your weight management plan is right for you.





The first step is to talk with your primary care provider to rule out certain health conditions like hypothyroidism which can lead to excess weight. You also want to review your medications with your primary care provider that may be causing weight gain like steroids, some antidepressants, antipsychotics, high blood pressure drugs, and anti-seizure medications. It’s a good idea to rule out these possibilities before starting a weight loss medication. Then, have the discussion with your provider to see if you have any weight related health risks like hypertension, joint pain or type 2 diabetes.


Next, take a look at lifestyle habits that you have control over. Are you supporting yourself by eating and moving your body in a healthy, sustainable way? It’s when these lifestyle changes aren’t enough for you to achieve your best weight, that medications like semaglutide can be helpful.


It’s important to remember that obesity is a chronic, complicated medical condition. When a person has excess body fat, they are at risk for many problems like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, fertility issues, sleep problems, erectile dysfunction and several types of cancer.


So what causes obesity? Obesity has long been stigmatized and attributed to lack of self-discipline and low willpower. But we now know the answer is much more complicated. Obesity results from a complex interaction of our genes and hormones with our environment. Researchers have been studying how our genes and hormones affect our weight for years. Lack of sleep, stress, and an unhealthy gut microbiome can lead to weight gain. Too little sleep leads to higher levels of ghrelin, which is a gut hormone that stimulates appetite and lower levels of leptin, a hormone that’s released by your fat cells that suppresses your appetite. When we’re stressed, our bodies release cortisol. Short term, this hormone helps to increase our heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar but with repeated stress over time this can lead to fatigue, mood changes and weight gain. An unhealthy gut microbiome can affect how you store fats and absorb nutrients making it hard to maintain a healthy weight. Like with lack of sleep, an unhealthy gut may also increase ghrelin causing you to feel hungry.


Additionally, many of us also live in highly obesogenic environments with poor access to healthcare, healthy food, or areas where physical activity is promoted (i.e. recreational areas, parks, and bike lanes.)


All of this is to highlight the multiple physical, environmental, social and economic factors driving obesity and the role of weight loss medication in comprehensive weight management. Weight loss medication is one tool in the toolbox we have to treat obesity, but must be combined with a healthy diet, proper sleep, self-care and regular exercise to achieve sustained, healthy weight management.


Ready to get started? We are here to help! If you are interested in medically assisted weight loss, click on the link below to schedule your consultation. We provide compassionate care from the convenience of your own home.


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