The Dangers of Long-Term Weight Loss Medication Use


Weight loss medications may be tempting to use, especially if you are struggling to lose weight, but they should ideally not be used long-term.

If they are used at all they can possibly be used, for a short period, in conjunction with healthy lifestyle changes that will promote weight loss and keep your body composition optimal in the process.

Medications that promise to speed up your metabolism usually contain stimulants which can cause an array of side effects including: 

  • Irritability, anxiety, and nervousness
  • Raised blood pressure and increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Blurred vision
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Addiction
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Some weight loss medications can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb fats which can lead to fatty, loose stools and flatulence. Others can cause nausea, dry mouth, vomiting or constipation

Weight loss medications, along with a low-calorie diet, can see you losing between 3% to 9% of your body weight, but when you resume a “normal” diet again this weight is usually regained. Most of the weight lost in the first few weeks of using these medications is water weight. 

If you continue on a low-calorie diet for too long, your body will also start to use your muscle mass for energy which means you then also start to lose muscle mass instead of fat mass.

The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off is to do it slowly, while eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, eating the right types of foods for your body, exercising, and sleeping well.

This takes time and discipline, but the rewards will be so much better when you feel healthy and vibrant during the process.

Many studies have been done on the various weight loss medications available, but the scary thing is that clinical trials related to mortality and morbidity have been withdrawn because it’s unethical to continue with them knowing the potential severity of the side effects of long-term use. 


For many people, losing weight is a lot harder than gaining it. There are many factors involved in weight management and these include our hormonal balance, blood sugar metabolism, genetics, family history and of course our diets. Other factors that influence our weight include how we digest our food and how healthy our gut bacteria are. 

If you are struggling to lose weight, it’s important to remember that there is no quick fix. Identify all the potential barriers to your ability to lose weight and get the help you need from someone who can do a proper assessment and who can guide you to make permanent changes that will work for your body. 

A diet typically has a start and finish date and the mindset that usually accompanies that is “I can’t wait to finish this diet so I can get back to normal”. Normal is what got you to where you are now, so a change is necessary if you expect a different outcome.

A new way of life becomes a lifestyle – there is no end date, it evolves and changes as we become healthier. This is what I believe we should aim for.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 14 April 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am