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Prescription weight loss medication: who is eligible?

Diving into the science on these medications.

Written by
Rachael Belfield
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
February 8, 2024
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Prescription weight loss medication: who is eligible?
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If you lost a kilo every time a well-meaning doctor, nurse, dietician or elderly grandparent told you to "just lose some weight", then we're sure all your weight loss issues would have left you years ago.

Have you been told time and time again that simply dieting and exercising will shed those kilos?

Have you started weight loss programs that promise to help you lose weight but you keep putting kilos back on? Have you tried a low fat diet, eating no carbs or a Keto style of eating and none of it works?

It's not your fault.

Here at Pilot, our products and offerings are grounded in science. And as science has attested time and time again, weight loss is a lot more complicated than simply eating less and exercising more.

Your genetic make-up and unique biology have a huge influence over how much weight you can gain or lose. Since two-thirds of Australians are overweight or obese, we know you're not alone in your attempts at losing weight and keeping it off.

If weight loss was as simple as just exercising and avoiding carbs, sugar and fat, then we know that it would not be two-thirds of Australians making up those overweight and obesity numbers.

Why can't I lose excess weight with exercise and a reduced-calorie diet?

Your weight is influenced by complex biological, psychosocial and environmental factors that need to be taken into consideration — it is not simply the result of a poor lifestyle.

In fact, up to 80 per cent of your weight is genetic. With this relatively new knowledge from Harvard Medical School, we can see that eating healthier and exercising isn’t enough to help people lose weight.

A theory, known as set point theory, helps to explain that this genetic influence is very much hardwired into our DNA. The theory says some people are born with a higher set point, which is the weight your body fights to maintain.

Despite the amount of exercise you're doing or the amount you're restricting your diet, your body will work against you, stopping you from losing as much weight as you hope to. Or, if you are successful at losing weight, your body will likely trigger strong weight regain responses via its hormones, undoing your hard work.

There are other factors that come into weight gain like stress, mental illness, poor sleep quality, physical injuries or other health conditions.

This is where medications can come in for weight loss. Weight loss medications treat obesity and weight issues with appetite control and are becoming commonplace for healthcare professionals to distribute to people struggling to shed kilos.

You may be eligible for weight loss medicines prescribed by a Pilot practitioner.

Can medications help you lose weight?

Yes, they certainly can. The Australian Family Physician makes it clear that weight loss medication should be seen as an adjunct to lifestyle changes.

Healthy eating and physical activity are still really important for weight management, but the clinically-proven treatments in Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program will enhance your weight loss experience, pushing you past those stubborn kilos that won't budge due to issues out of your control.

This is why Pilot also offers health coaching from dietitians while you're on the program. We would never force you onto a low-calorie diet, but we will offer you complete support on your weight loss journey, encouraging you to make healthy eating habits, to move more and to understand through science how to keep weight off for good.

How do weight loss medications work?

Unfortunately, the TGA does not permit us to discuss the specifics of this medication or to name it in this article. Under TGA rules, you must have a consultation with a practitioner before the medication can be named.

We can tell you, however, that this type of weight loss medication is made up of a hormone already produced in the gut. It works to decrease appetite, slow the digestive system, and keep you feeling fuller for longer: it's a breakthrough scientific medication that helps you lose weight and keep it off.

Are there side effects to this medication?

Any medications you take hold risks of side effects. Luckily, the side effects of these medications are relatively mild.

At the start, you may experience some nausea, fatigue, headaches, a dry mouth, constipation or diarrhoea. Nausea is the most common side effect and should lessen over time. Any serious side effects are extremely rare and will be monitored by your practitioner.

When prescribed with a treatment, our team of practitioners and dieticians will be keeping a close eye on you to make sure any side effects are minimal, and you can always speak to them if you have concerns.

What medications are available to treat overweight and obesity?

Due to Australian therapeutic goods regulations, we are unable to list this class of treatments by name. You will have to proceed to the practitioner's consult stage on Pilot (and be approved by a doctor) to learn deeper specifics.

What we can say is that this medication was approved for use back in 2017 in the form of an injectable medication you can administer at home.

While it was originally prescribed to patients dealing with diabetes, it has since been found to regulate your metabolism and hunger hormones and has been an effective, safe treatment for GPs across Australia since then.

These injections, plus lifestyle changes, create an effective plan to help you lose weight. Our Metabolic Reset Program combines the breakthrough medication with dietitian-led health coaching and weekly check-ins with your practitioner so you can improve your health and make long-lasting changes to your daily habits at the same time.

How long should you take weight loss medication?

There is no set time limit for treatment with the prescribed medication. However, based on the studies collected, you do need to use it for at least 12 weeks to start seeing results and for your body to get used to this drug.

Your practitioner will be watching your progress closely and ensuring these prescription medications are working.

If you are effectively losing weight at the 12-week mark and you aren't experiencing any side effects, your practitioner will give you the green light to continue for at least nine months and up to one year. This time frame is considered the most effective for prolonged weight loss, according to clinical evidence.

Keep in mind that there are no quick fixes for weight loss, even with a proven medication.

Weight loss requires time, energy and, most importantly, a solid, scientific background to ensure you are not harming your body or priming yourself for significant weight regain.

What if you aren't considered a candidate for prescription weight loss medication?

Weight-loss medications aren't suitable for everyone's individual circumstances and if you have experienced or fall into any of the below categories, your GP may recommend a different weight-loss route.

  • Heart failure
  • Chronically low or high blood pressure
  • A family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma
  • Kidney disease with likely reduction in kidney function
  • You are over 75 years of age
  • You are pregnant or breast/chestfeeding.

There might be other reasons why your GP recommend a different method for weight loss.

For those unable to take our prescription weight loss medicines, Pilot's Weight Reset Shakes are an easy, fast and tasty option for nutritious meal replacements.

In a nutshell

There are plenty of options for weight loss management out there, varying from lifestyle changes to surgery. It can be difficult to choose the best option for you or to understand which ones will be grounded in science and help you sustainably keep weight off for good.

Weight-loss medications are a far less intrusive option than weight loss surgery and are a helpful addition to a diet and exercise change you might be making in your life. They are proven to be a safe and effective option for long-term weight management.

Before making any decision about your health, talk to a trusted doctor or healthcare professional.

Pilot offers an accessible and easy option for accessing practitioners regarding weight loss as well as other health issues that affect men. Take the online consultation today and see if this course of treatment is right for you.

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