HEADLINES Published January26, 2015 By Bernadette Strong

First Guideline Created for Treating Obesity with Medications

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Three medical organizations have created a guide for physicians on prescribing weight loss drugs.
(Photo : Jore Raedle, Getty Images )

A clinical practice guideline for treating obesity with medications has been published. This guideline will serve as a tool for health professionals to use in deciding whether drug treatment is right for a particular patient and which drug or combination of drugs can best be used.

A clinical practice guideline--also called a clinical guideline or clinical protocol--identifies and evaluates the evidence behind a treatment for a disease or condition. It provides a framework for treating a disease that health professionals can consult.

The guideline was published by the Endocrine Society, with input from The Obesity Society and the European Society of Endocrinology. This guideline includes recommended medications and dosages based on factors such as whether a given patient has co-existing diseases such as diabetes or heart disease.

It also gives recommendations about medications for co-existing conditions that may be a contributing factor in a patient's weight. There are implications for continuing or discontinuing medications when a patient has more than one condition. Disclosure of information about medication-related weight gain is also covered in the guideline, which can help physicians help their patients share in decision making.

In 2013, The Obesity Society, the American Heart Association, and the American College of Cardiologists published a guideline on managing weight and obesity in adults. This new drug guideline expands on that one.

The use of medications to help overweight or obese people lose weight is a rapidly changing field. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved four anti-obesity drugs in the past two years. When used in addition to a low-calorie diet and exercise, anti-obesity medications can help people lose the weight they need to lose, especially if they have not had success with diet and exercise alone.

You can read the guideline posted on the website of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism at http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/jc.2014-3415.

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