Reducing the risk of obesity: Defining the role of weight loss drugs

Hua Ling, Thomas L. Lenz, Tammy L. Burns, Daniel E. Hilleman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The prevalence of obesity has increased dramatically in the past 20 years. As a public health concern, obesity is associated with a health care resource burden that is quickly approaching that associated with tobacco use. Although lifestyle intervention (diet and exercise) remains the mainstay of treatment of obesity, its effectiveness is limited by poor long-term adherence. Drug therapy has historically been unsuccessful in producing sustained weight loss. Many older weight loss drugs have adverse benefit-to-risk profiles. This review provides an overview of nonpharmacologic interventions for weight loss. The safety and efficacy of older weight loss drugs, as well as current data related to lorcaserin, phentermine/topiramate, and naltrexone-bupropion, are evaluated. Although associated with modest weight loss and some improvement in adverse obesity-related metabolic effects, none of these drugs has been demonstrated to reduce mortality. In addition, the long-term safety of these drugs remains largely unknown. Bariatric surgery is an option for patients with morbid obesity who have failed conventional treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1308-1321
Number of pages14
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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