Morning Report

Obesity Is a Crisis, Yet New Weight Loss Drugs Are Underused

Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH


December 08, 2017

Hello. I'm Dr Arefa Cassoobhoy, a practicing internist, Medscape advisor, and senior medical director for WebMD. Welcome to Morning Report, our 1-minute news story for primary care.

Low Rate of Antiobesity Drug Prescribing

Despite a national obesity rate of almost 40%, only 1.3% of eligible adults are prescribed weight loss meds. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved at least eight drugs or drug combinations for obesity, so there's no lack of options.

These drugs are typically used in patients with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30 kg/m2, or a BMI of 27 kg/m2 with a weight-related comorbidity.

So why aren't they prescribed more often?

The low rates of utilizing meds could be due to lack of insurance coverage. But it could also be due to clinicians not being familiar with newer options, or not trusting the data on safety and efficacy given the history of weight loss meds.

Patients are asking for help with weight loss. These drugs aren't a substitute for lifestyle change and behavioral counseling, but they may help patients reach a weight loss of 5% to 15%, so as clinicians, we should learn more about them.

For starters, you can download and print this chart with a few key details about these newer weight loss drugs.

Follow Dr Cassoobhoy on Twitter at @ArefaMD


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