By Bonnie Jacob, Pure Matters

When you're significantly overweight, nobody has to tell you that you'd probably be happier and healthier without the extra pounds. But what if the weight won't come off, no matter how hard you try?

Willpower alone might not be enough for people who are significantly overweight. If you've honestly tried to lose weight and failed, medications or surgery could be helpful under certain conditions.

Most medical weight-loss programs first try to help you make the long-term behavioral changes necessary to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. This includes exercising regularly and eating healthy food.

If you still remain seriously overweight, you and your health care provider might discuss these other options.


Prescription medications can be helpful, but they're not for everyone. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), drugs are generally recommended only if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, or if your BMI is 27 or more and you have conditions caused or made worse by obesity, such as high blood pressure; dyslipidemia, which means abnormal amounts of fat in the blood; or type 2 diabetes. (A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy.)

People with certain chronic health conditions or who are taking certain medications may not be able to take weight-loss medications. Be sure your health care provider knows if you have any of these conditions: high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, anorexia, bulimia, depression, migraine headaches, glaucoma, diabetes or heart disease, or you have abused drugs or alcohol. Medications to help weight loss must be used in combination with regular physical activity and a healthy eating program.

Weight-loss drugs can help a person lose five to 22 pounds more than he or she could using non-drug treatments. The greatest amount of weight loss usually occurs within the first six months after starting a medication. After six months, weight tends to level off or increase. Maintaining weight after stopping weight-loss medications can be difficult.

These are the types of medications available for weight loss: