Diet Pills: Therapeutic use

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 1:20 pm

While many people think that diet pills are used to slim down and improve their appearance, weight loss medications are not a cosmetic remedy. These drugs are used to treat obesity, a medical condition characterized by excess fat stored on the body. People who are overweight or obese weigh more than is considered healthy for their heights and ages. Obese people are at risk for conditions including non-insulin-dependent diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Obesity contributes to the deaths of about 300,000 Americans annually, according to the FDA.
In general, people are considered obese if they weigh more than 20% over the amount that is considered healthy based on factors such as age, height, and weight.
Body mass index
A more specific standard is used for treating obesity with diet pills. These drugs are prescribed to a person with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30 and no medical conditions related to obesity. Body mass index is a relationship between weight and height, and it is used as an indicator of health risk due to excess weight. The BMI is determined by measuring the person’s height and weight, converting those measurements into metric measurements, and plugging those figures into an equation. A BMI of 30 is assigned to a 5-foot-5-inch person weighing 170 pounds, a 5-foot-7-inch person weighing 180 pounds, and a 6-foot person weighing 220 pounds.
Furthermore, diet drugs may also be prescribed for someone with a BMI of 27 or higher if that person has other health conditions such as hypertension or diabetes. A BMI of 27 is assigned to a 5-foot-5-inch person weighing 160 pounds, a 5-foot-7-inch person weighing 170 pounds, and a 6-foot person weighing 200 pounds.
Prescription diet pills are not recommended for people who are slightly overweight.
Short-term treatment
Most diet pills are prescribed for short-term use that ranges from a few weeks to several months. The goal of this treatment is for the patient to lose weight or not gain additional weight. Furthermore, diet pills are only part of the treatment that focuses on modifying the patient’s behavior. These modifications generally consist of exercising more and following a low-calorie, low-fat diet.
Most appetite suppressants are prescribed for short-term use. While a physician may prescribe a different dose, the general daily dose for an adult is:
• Benzphetamine is taken from one to three times and is taken before a meal.
• Diethylpropion in 25-mg tablet form is used from one to three times. It is taken one hour before eating. The time-release, 75-mg tablet is taken in the middle of the morning.
• Mazindol is taken once, but the dose may be adjusted.
• Phendimetrazine in 35-mg tablet form is taken one hour before breakfast. Some patients may be prescribed a half-tablet (18.5-mg) that is taken twice during the day. The time-release, 105-mg tablet is taken 30 to 60 minutes before breakfast.
Phentermine comes in tablet and capsule forms. It is used before breakfast or taken one to two hours afterward.
Methamphetamine has a high potential for abuse, and is only prescribed if the patient has not lost weight after trying other treatments. The dose is one 5-mg tablet, and it is taken a half-hour before each meal. Use of this drug should stop after several weeks.
Long-term diet pill treatment
Most prescription diet pills are prescribed for short-term use of not more than several months. Sibutramine and orlistat have been prescribed for longer use in the treatment of significantly obese people. For both medications, this treatment ranged from six months to one year. The safety and effectiveness of use for longer than one year have not been determined.
Sibutramine comes in capsule form and is used once daily. Patients can take sibutramine with food or without it. Orlistat is taken three times daily with a meal that contains fat. It may be taken an hour before the meal.

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