The pharmacological treatment and management of obesity

Postgrad Med. 2011 Jan;123(1):34-44. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2011.01.2243.


Obesity is a pandemic with many complications that increase the societal disease burden and cost of health care, and decrease longevity and quality of life. Currently, 1 in 3 adults in the United States is obese. Physicians must therefore regularly confront obesity and its consequent diseases, and develop strategies for effective treatment and management. This article summarizes current lifestyle modifications, pharmacological treatment, and surgical options for the management of obesity and discusses the benefits, limitations, and risks of each. As insights are gained into the pathophysiology of a gut-brain neurochemical feedback axis governing satiety and feeding behavior, targets for new pharmacotherapies are being developed. In particular, gut hormone analogs are an attractive antiobesity therapy because they appear to lack the adverse effects historically associated with central nervous system-acting agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Appetite Depressants / therapeutic use
  • Bariatric Surgery / methods
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Life Style
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Risk Factors


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Appetite Depressants
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones
  • Hypoglycemic Agents