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Weight loss medications can help increase weight loss to 5-10% of a person’s total body weight and in some patients more.  5% may not seem like much but can have a big impact on a person’s overall health. Just 5% of weight loss can decrease the chances of a person developing diabetes by greater than 50%!  At Iowa Weight Loss Specialists our current average is 10% at one year.

Weight loss medications are tools that can help by decreasing appetite, decreasing food cravings, increasing satiety (fullness), or decreasing absorption.  Medications are often overlooked as helpful tools to help patients with obesity.  Also, it’s important to point out that many patients have never been on weight loss medications.

A few of the common questions we get in our clinic about medications are listed below:

Q: “Are weight loss medications safe?"

A: When prescribed by an experienced practitioner the medications are safe, although not all medications are appropriate for everyone. All anti-obesity medications must show at least a 5% reduction in weight and pass a safety profile to be approved by the FDA. The FDA also needs to see the medication show improvements in blood pressure, blood sugars, and cholesterol.  Many patients have tried over the counter supplements that have not been tested or verified by the FDA and have no data supporting effectiveness.

Q: “My PCP says they don’t prescribe weight loss medication."

A: Unfortunately, not all primary care providers have the adequate resources or comfort to treat weight-related disorders. The providers at Iowa Weight Loss Specialists understand obesity as a disease. It is important to have experienced weight loss providers with a comprehensive team comprised of dietitians, mental health clinicians, wellness coach, and Bariatric surgeons to address the multifactorial disease of obesity. Our team approach and expertise ensures the best possible outcomes for those who are under our care. Each patient is provided an individualized plan and we are happy to work with your primary care provider or other specialists to help improve your overall health. 

Q: “What weight loss medications are available and how do they work?"

Contrave- combination medication of bupropion and naltrexone. Contrave can help with decreasing appetite and works in the reward center of the brain to help control food cravings. 

Orlistat (Xenical)-reduces the absorption of fat in the gut.

Phentermine- is the most prescribed anti-obesity medication. It is a stimulant medication and suppresses appetite and may have other metabolic effects. It also can help with food cravings.

Qysmia- a combination medication of Topiramate and Phentermine. Qysmia can help decrease appetite and food cravings. It may also change the taste of some foods making it easier to comply with dietary changes.

Saxenda/Wegovy-work on specific hormones in the body to help reduce appetite, increase feelings of fullness and reduce fat storage.

Plenity- A non-medication aid taken before meals to take up space in the stomach and promote fullness.


The providers at Iowa Weight Loss Specialists are educated and experienced in using all of the available weight loss medications. We stay up to date on the latest developments and treatments available to our patients. Providers may consider the use of other medications to help promote weight management, as well. Careful consideration is made with each patient to determine appropriate treatment.

Cost and coverage of medications can vary. Our staff is dedicated to advocating for the best possible options for our patients.

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