Prescription for obesity

Prescription medication may be a useful addition to lifestyle measures for managing obesity. 

Expected weight loss in 1 year is about 2.9% – 6.0% of your overall body weight.12,31

In the past few years a number of medications that can be taken for more than three months have become available. These medications usually reduce appetite and increase or prolong feelings of fullness after eating.31,32,33

When lifestyle and behavioural modification strategies are insufficient and BMI remains greater than 30 or between 27–30 with obesity-related complications, these medications may be appropriate.12,31,32,33

How well does pharmacotherapy work?

Clinical studies of drug therapies have shown average weight loss of between 3% and 12% of baseline bodyweight; an outcome strongly influenced by individual physiology.12

In order to take medications for more than three months, you must lose at least 5% of your starting weight within 12 weeks of commencing the maximum recommended dose.32,33

In clinical studies, 50–68% of people achieved this required weight loss.32,33 If you have not lost at least 5% of your starting weight in three months or you need to lose more, your doctor will discuss additional options with you.12

3-6% weight loss achieved from obesity medications



12. Pilitsi E, et al. Pharmacotherapy of obesity: Available medications and drugs under investigation. Metab Clin Exp 2019; 92: 170–92.

31. Lee PC, Dixon J. Pharmacotherapy for obesity. Aust Fam Phys. 2017; 46(7): 472–7

32. Saxenda Product Information. Available at Accessed December 2019.

33. Contrave Product Information. Available at Accessed December 2019.