Advice from a board-certified endocrinologist
This piece is brought to you by Eisai Inc.
Did you know more than two-thirds of American adults are considered either overweight or obese? In fact, obesity rates in the US are dramatically higher than they were 30 years ago, making obesity a growing public health concern. Obesity is linked to conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer — some of the leading causes of preventable death in the US. Without appropriate interventions, about half of the adult population in this country could be obese by 2030, leading to significant increases in associated health problems.
The good news for those struggling with obesity is that even losing 5 percent of your body weight can be meaningful. Cheryl R. Rosenfeld, DO, FACE, FACP, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Middletown, New York, and practicing endocrinologist at North Jersey Endocrine Consultants in Denville, New Jersey, frequently works with patients trying to lose weight. She shares the following tips for starting a weight loss regimen:
Q: How do I know if I am overweight or obese?
DR. ROSENFELD: We look at what is considered a healthy weight based on a person’s height. For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the “body mass index,” or BMI. An adult with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and an adult with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. Once your BMI has been determined, you can work with your doctor to identify weight loss strategies.
Q: What is the first step I should take in starting a weight loss program?
DR. ROSENFELD: If you are looking to lose weight, especially due to related health problems, the best way to start is by talking to your doctor. Together you can assess the state of your health and identify appropriate weight loss goals and methods for you. In the beginning, your goal may not even be a number on a scale; it could be something like “adopt a healthier lifestyle, including increased physical activity and mindful eating habits.”
It’s important, especially in the beginning, to keep your goals small and realistic, and to check in with your doctor to review your progress. Don’t think of weight loss in terms of the total amount you’d like to lose — that can be intimidating and discouraging. Instead, focus on short-term goals, like smaller amounts of weight loss or having more energy, to help you achieve your ultimate goal.
Your doctor can advise you on the appropriate weight loss strategies for your health needs and lifestyle. Most weight loss plans include healthy eating (which may mean reducing overall calorie intake and eating unprocessed foods, including fruits and vegetables) and increasing physical activity. Your doctor may also recommend medication to supplement your weight loss program.
Q: How can I change my eating habits to make them healthier?
DR. ROSENFELD: There are a number of ways you can make healthy choices when it comes to food. Your doctor will likely advise you to reduce the number of calories you consume in a day, and make sure that those calories are coming from nutrient-dense foods that contain a good balance of carbs, fat and protein.
Planning ahead is key when it comes to healthy eating. If possible, try to set aside some time to prepare food at the start of the week. That way, if you’re in a time crunch, it will be easy to grab the nutritious food choices you’ve already prepared, rather than junk food.
It’s also important to take your lifestyle into account. For example, do you work multiple jobs? Are you always on the go? If time is your issue and budget allows, you could benefit from enrolling in a weight loss program that provides pre-made meals. If you find you need to rely on fast food for your meals, look for the healthier options on the menu or find ways to downsize your regular order; rather than a deluxe burger, large fries and a soda, you can get a regular burger, small fries or a side salad and water.
When it comes to healthy eating, making small changes and healthy choices throughout the day can add up to big results.
Q: How can I integrate physical activity into my lifestyle?
DR. ROSENFELD: If physical activity is new to you, make sure to discuss with your doctor what type of activity will be appropriate for you. Again, you can start small and work your way up to bigger goals. You can also find ways to work fitness into your everyday activities. For example, you can take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk a lap around the office each time you go to refill your coffee or water cup.
Walking is a simple and free way to increase your physical activity, plus it’s something you can do with a friend, partner, or even your whole family. Having a “fitness buddy” is a good way to stay accountable for your fitness goals.
Q: What if I still can’t lose weight after eating healthy and exercising?
DR. ROSENFELD: If, despite reducing your calorie intake and increasing your physical activity, you aren’t seeing any weight loss results, your doctor may recommend adding a medication to help with your weight loss. One option is BELVIQ® (lorcaserin HCl) CIV, an FDA-approved prescription weight-loss medication that, when used with diet and exercise, can help some overweight (Body Mass Index [BMI] =27 kg/m²) adults with a weight-related medical problem, or obese (BMI =30 kg/m²) adults, lose weight and keep it off.
The safety and efficacy of coadministration of BELVIQ with other products intended for weight loss including prescription drugs (e.g., phentermine), over-the-counter drugs, and herbal preparations have not been established. The effect of BELVIQ on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality has not been established.
Starting on your weight-loss journey can be challenging. But by sticking with manageable and measurable goals, and working closely with your doctor, you can make a difference. If you have an “off” day or fail to meet a particular goal, don’t get discouraged! Just focus on what you can do right now, and make your next choice a healthy one.
For more information on weight loss and patients’ experiences using BELVIQ, visit www.belviq.com.
Important Safety Information about BELVIQ®
Pregnancy: Do not take BELVIQ if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, as weight loss offers no potential benefit during pregnancy and BELVIQ may harm your unborn baby.
Serotonin Syndrome or Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)-like reactions: Before using BELVIQ, tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, especially medicines that treat depression, migraines, mental problems, or the common cold. These medicines may cause serious or life-threatening side effects if taken with BELVIQ. Call your doctor right away if you experience agitation, hallucinations, confusion, or other changes in mental status; coordination problems; uncontrolled muscle spasms; muscle twitching; restlessness; racing or fast heartbeat; high or low blood pressure; sweating; fever; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; or stiff muscles.
Valvular heart disease: Some people taking medicines like BELVIQ have had heart valve problems. Call your doctor right away if you experience trouble breathing; swelling of the arms, legs, ankles, or feet; dizziness, fatigue, or weakness that will not go away; or fast or irregular heartbeat. Before taking BELVIQ, tell your doctor if you have or have had heart problems.
Changes in attention or memory: BELVIQ may slow your thinking. You should not drive a car or operate heavy equipment until you know how BELVIQ affects you.
Mental problems: Taking too much BELVIQ may cause hallucinations, a feeling of being high or in a very good mood, or feelings of standing outside your body.
Depression or thoughts of suicide: Call your doctor right away if you notice any mental changes, especially sudden changes in your mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings, or if you have depression or thoughts of suicide.
Low blood sugar: Weight loss can cause low blood sugar in people taking medicines for type 2 diabetes, such as insulin or sulfonylureas. Blood sugar levels should be checked before and while taking BELVIQ. Changes to diabetes medication may be needed if low blood sugar develops.
Painful erections: If you have an erection lasting more than 4 hours while on BELVIQ, stop taking BELVIQ and call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room right away.
Slow heartbeat: BELVIQ may cause your heart to beat slower.
Decreases in blood cell count: BELVIQ may cause your red and white blood cell counts to decrease.
Increase in prolactin: BELVIQ may increase the amount of a hormone called prolactin. Tell your doctor if your breasts begin to make milk or a milky fluid, or if you are a male and your breasts increase in size.
Most common side effects in patients without diabetes: Headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, and constipation.
Most common side effects in patients with diabetes: Low blood sugar, headache, back pain, cough, and fatigue.
Nursing: BELVIQ should not be taken while breastfeeding.
Drug interactions: Before taking BELVIQ, tell your doctor if you take medicines for depression, migraines, or other medical conditions, such as: triptans; medicines used to treat mood, anxiety, psychotic or thought disorders, including tricyclics, lithium, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or antipsychotics; cabergoline; linezolid (an antibiotic); tramadol; dextromethorphan (an over-the-counter (OTC) common cold/cough medicine); OTC supplements such as tryptophan or St. John’s Wort; or erectile dysfunction medicines.
BELVIQ is a federally controlled substance (CIV) because it may be abused or lead to drug dependence. BELVIQ® is a registered trademark of Arena Pharmaceuticals GmbH.