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Examiner
  • Lori Boyajian-O'Neill: Is the new diet drug for you?

  • In June the FDA approved the first weight loss drug in over a decade, providing additional arsenal for folks in the battle against the bulge. Belviq (generic lorcaserin) should be available in late 2012 or early 2013. Belviq, the new diet drug: what do you know?

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  • Put that fork down. Step away from the table. Take a deep breath. Head outdoors and take a nice long walk. Smaller portions, healthful diet choices and exercise are central to weight loss and improved health. But for millions, diet and exercise alone may not be enough. In June the FDA approved the first weight loss drug in over a decade, providing additional arsenal for folks in the battle against the bulge. Belviq (generic lorcaserin) should be available in late 2012 or early 2013. Belviq, the new diet drug: what do you know?
    T or F?
    1. It is safe during pregnancy.
    2. It is an over-the-counter medication.
    3. It increases metabolism.
    Studies show that the combination of fewer calories combined with exercise optimizes weight loss. A healthful diet without exercise and vice versa does not provide optimal weight loss. “Why can’t I lose weight?” Well, for those already exercising regularly and improving their diets, Belviq may assist in weight loss.
    Belviq targets the serotonin 2C receptor, which, in part, regulates appetite. It is not recommended as a stand-alone treatment for obesity, but, rather as an adjunct to nutritious diet and exercise. In pre-approval studies 20 percent lost 10 percent of body weight and 50 percent lost 5 percent of body weight while sticking to a 1,500-1,600 calorie-a-day diet.
    Belviq is approved for those with a body mass index of 30 or greater or for those with a BMI of 27 or greater AND at least one weight-related condition such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. For those 19 and older, normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Overweight is BMI between 25 and 29.9 and obese 30 or greater. BMI is a calculation based on weight and height. To determine your BMI go to www.cdc.gov and search BMI calculator.
    Remember the famous fen-phen diet pill several years ago? The fen part of the drug combo (fenfluramine) also targeted this same receptor. But the problem with fen was that it had many adverse effects including causing heart valve problems. Belviq, according to the manufacturer, is much more selective than fen and therefore much safer. Time will tell as post-market studies will determine if any unforeseen side effects develop in users.
    The science of appetite and eating has long focused on brain hormones which drive us to our prey. For modern day humans, particularly Americans, who are among the most obese on the planet, this often means eating or drinking when we are not even hungry. Survey your surroundings at home, work and play. At any given time and location are you very far from food? We humans are still foragers and predators, but our prey comes in the form of packaged dinners protected in Styrofoam clam shells and sugary drinks, and they are killing us.
    For many who are obese, the ability to exercise regularly is severely hampered by size. The addition of a drug like Belviq may offer them an opportunity to lose weight enabling them to engage in exercise.
    Page 2 of 2 - As science makes more discoveries about the mysteries of the brain and the drive for food, we can expect more drugs in the future designed to manipulate these hormones in our favor. Don’t expect, however, that such drugs will provide a free pass to eat everything in our sights or forego daily exercise. There are no drugs to substitute for that.
    Answers: 1. F; 2. F; 3. F, it suppresses appetite.
    Dr. Lori Boyajian-O’Neill can be contacted at lori.boyajian-oneill@hcahealthcare.com.
     
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