New Research Finds Docs Don’t Take Prescription Drugs For Weight Loss But Do Prescribe Them

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Dr John La Puma

A few physicians, like Dr. La Puma, specialize in nutrition and see patients nationwide who want to lose weight no matter what it takes using balanced targeted foods, fitness and lifestyle change. Most physicians prescribe weight loss medication and weight loss herbal supplements to their patients. But what do docs do themselves?

In an Archives of Internal Medicine study of 394 practicing physicians, only 11% of physicians had taken a weight loss agent. Of those who had, however, 19 had taken a drugstore remedy, and 16 took prescription medication. Almost half of the physicians–44%–were overweight or obese. The study is now online.

In contrast to physicians‚Äôpersonal preferences, however, nearly all (273 or 90%) of the 303 physician recommendations to patients were for prescription medication. Only 30 or 10% of recommendations were for a drugstore remedy (specifically, “herbal products” or phenylpropanolamine). Most responding physicians (265 or 66%) had not recommended or prescribed weight loss products at all.

Dr. John La Puma, M.D., director of the Santa Barbara Institute for Medical Nutrition and Healthy Weight led the study, and comments, “Many physicians are wary of prescription drug side effects–no one wants to prescribe another phen/fen. Few physicians have the time and resources to help people lose weight and keep it off–and may be embarrassed about seeing a fellow physician for weight loss themselves.”

Dr. La Puma and his co-authors also hypothesize that cost of medication “contributes to physician personal preference for NPWLP (non prescription weight loss products) over prescription drugs.” The research was presented as a paper at the University of Chicago‚Äôs Annual Conference on Alternative Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, December 2002.

Read the whole paper here…

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