Few patients seem to use weight loss medications to treat obesity despite guideline recommendations and the availability of approved drugs, suggests a new study presented at ENDO 2016. 

For patients with obesity, lifestyle modifications produce modest weight loss. Surgery may be an effective treatment option but with its cost and risk, it is only appropriate for some patients. Guidelines suggest weight loss medications can be effective and clinicians should consider their use for selected patients. 

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Daniel Bessesen, MD, the study’s lead author, assessed how commonly weight loss medications were prescribed and for whom the guidelines suggest the treatment would be appropriate. His team used electronic medical records from 9 sites from 2009–2013. He found that of >2 million eligible patients, only 1.02% received a weight loss medication. Phentermine was the most commonly prescribed medication but it is only approved for 3 months of treatment. Study authors also found that a small number of prescribers were responsible for the majority of the prescriptions for weight loss medications. 

Dr. Bessesen concluded that despite the general understanding that “obesity is a problem and that there are available FDA-approved medications, few patients use this treatment option.” 

For more information visit endocrine.org.