Weight Loss Pills - What's the Verdict
Quick and easy weight loss methods are highly sought after these days. In recognizing the financial benefits, pharmaceuticals quickly acted to fill the demand. With various drugs and supplements available that claim to aid weight loss, people are drawn to an “easier” solution of taking a pill rather than examining their dietary and physical activity habits and making improvements.
Contrave is one of the newer combination drugs approved by the FDA for use. Initially, Contrave was denied for approval by the FDA in 2011 due to concerns of cardiovascular risks (1). Additionally, the FDA did not initially approve Contrave because it only led to a 5% body weight loss compared to subjects on the placebo who lost 10% body weight. As a result, the FDA concluded the risks of use of Contrave did not outweigh its benefits (2). But later in 2014 after reapplying, the FDA approved Contrave for the market. It is recommended for persons obese with a BMI over 30 or overweight with BMI over 27 with an obesity related illness, such as Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension or dyslipidemia (4).
While weight loss drugs can be a helpful means to jumpstart desired weight loss and instill motivation in an individual to continue improving lifestyle factors, one has to weigh the risks of taking a prescription drug against its benefits. As research has shown, in a 56-week trial, participants presented with ≥5% body weight loss (1). Because of these marginal results, I would not recommend such drugs for any client. Additionally, long warning labels of such weight-loss drugs warrant great attention and thought. Is it really worth it to take a pill that lets you lose 10 pounds without having to exercise and eat healthy, when you could experience side effects of dizziness, nausea, increased blood pressure and heart rate? Providing nutrition education and support is far more valuable and effective in motivating change toward a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable long term. Striving toward health and wellness, nutrition counseling offers an opportunity to identify and change unhealthy habits to support a long-lasting healthy lifestyle. Weight gain does not happen overnight and as a nutritionist, I hope to provide the support and motivation that can fuel clients’ patience and dedication to lifestyle changes despite of slow-earned results. When striving for good health and wellness, it is important to remember: “That which is worth having, is not easily attained.”
1 Kakkar, A.K; Dahiya, N. (Jan 26, 2015). Drug Treatment of Obesity: Current Status and Future Prospects. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 26, pp. 89-94. DOI:
2 Maugh, Thomas H (Feb 02, 2011). The Nation: Another Weight-Loss Drug Rejected: The FDA Keeps Contrave off the Market, Citing Possible Heart Complications. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from: https://search-proquest-
3 Summerfield, L.; Ellis, S. (2016). Nutrition, Exercise and Behavior: An Integrated Approach to Weight Management (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
4 U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (Sept 11, 2014). FDA Approves Weight-Management Drug Contrave. Retrieved from: https://wayback.archive-