Patient Resources

There’s No Magic Pill for Weight Loss: Belviq

When it comes to weight loss, there is no Fountain of Youth, no quick fix, no shortcut and no magic pill. The good news is that proven techniques do exist.

When a new weight-loss pill enters the market, it often is met with a groundswell of enthusiasm and hope for quick, effective results. Quite often, these quick-fix drugs don’t deliver as much as they promise. Belviq is one of those cases.

Belviq was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012 as a chronic weight management drug to be used in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise. It is a serotonergic drug, meaning it targets the brain’s hunger receptors, suppressing appetite. However, the science behind how Belviq does this is not yet fully understood and data surrounding its performance is incomplete, leaving its users with the makings of another miracle weight-loss drug that fails to deliver results.

Studies have shown that people taking Belviq for one year can expect to lose between 3 to 3.7 percent of their weight, but they are likely to gain it back. In one trial, Belviq patients lost up to 5 percent of their body weight after 12 months, but gained back 25 percent of it by year two.

Reputable publications like Consumer Reports have advised against using Belviq, saying “We’ve long cautioned against taking quick-fix weight-loss drugs like Belviq, and Qsymia … as well as supplements, because their benefits are usually minimal, and their adverse effects can be troublesome. Instead, skip the pills, and lose weight the safer, tried-and-true way – by eating less and exercising.”

In our experience, the gold standard for a good weight loss program is an average weight loss of 10 percent of body weight in a period of 6 months. Belviq is far from that standard. In addition, we must consider the potential risks that accompany Belviq’s use – heart valve problems; hypoglycemia; acute infection of the nose, sinus and throat; nausea; blurred vision; dry eye and mouth; low energy; muscle pain; changes in memory or mood; and more are known side effects.

The bottom line is, Belviq may indeed help some patients attain their weight loss goals; unfortunately, this will not likely be the experience of most patients.

What will work, however, is a carefully crafted plan drawn up with the aid of your primary care physician that encompasses dietary changes, increased physical fitness, and support from your care team, all powered by your own determination to make a positive change in your life.

Call your physician’s office if you have questions about getting started on a safe weight-loss program or let Bellin Health assist you by calling Bellin Health Weight Management at (920) 433-6787.

Taresa Fassbender, Bellin Health Weight Management Team