Is It Safe To Use Prescription Appetite Suppressants?

One of the components of the SP Program is the use of an FDA-approved appetite suppressant. These medications fall into the category of amphetamines. These are classified as Schedule IV controlled substances. When I wrote the protocol for the SP Program almost 20 years ago, similar to most doctors, I was very leery of prescribing amphetamines. We were taught in medical school and residency that appetite suppressants are “bad” and overweight/obese patients should just be told to “eat less and exercise more”. I spent months researching every medical article I could find about phentermine (the med we use most) to ensure we were using this is the safest and most responsible way.

Despite us offering a very safe and effective protocol, to this day, when we have a new prospective patient learn about the program and their response is “let me check with my own doctor to see if this is something I should do”, we will never see that person again. The reason? Most doctors still do not believe in the use of “diet pills”, informing their patients that the use of these medications are dangerous and should be avoided.

A recent study was released from Wake Forest University showing that the long term use of phentermine is NOT associated with any increase risk of cardiovascular disease. To this day, the guidelines for the use of phentermine call for 12 weeks or less of usage, but clearly, for the person needing to lose 20, 30 or more pounds, often more than 12 weeks of use could be helpful.

Here is my take on this subject: Phentermine or any other “diet pill” should be viewed as an adjunct and a jump-start to long-term weight control efforts. Psychologically, it is important for the person seeking to shed lots of weight that they see immediate, robust results. By medically monitoring patients once a week, we could not be using this medication any more responsibly. And, VERY importantly, what is more dangerous for a person: Being obese and taking a myriad number of medications for co-morbidities such as diabetes or being on phentermine to help a successful weight control journey? The recent study adds to the better choice of the latter as opposed to the former.

Please do not take the above entry as my “pushing” of prescription diet pills. However, I do believe strongly that obesity is a disease and prescription medications can help as part of the solution as we are helping to achieve behavioral modification.

Soups, all green veggies and any foods with a high water content count as high-volume, low-calorie foods that will help to stay longer satiated. Add protein to your a big pot soup to eat all week following the big weekend feast.

Author
Dr. Robert Posner One of the world’s leading medical weight loss researchers, Robert Posner, MD, operates his state-of-the-art weight loss clinic, Serotonin Plus, in the heart of Burke, Virginia, in the suburban Washington area.

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