Michelle Rupp: Hello and welcome into this week’s edition of AFMC TV. I’m your host, Michelle Rupp. Joining me today is Dr. Chad Rodgers, pediatrician, as well as the medical director here at AFMC. Happy new year. I haven’t seen you yet.

Dr. Chad Rodgers: Happy new year. I hope you had a good holiday. 

MR: It was a great holiday season. I hope you did as well. 

CR: Yeah, it was great. 

MR: It was fun to see friends and family. 

CR: Lots to eat and lots to do. 

MR: And lots to work off now as we launch into 2022. 

CR: Resolution time. 

MR: I mean yes, and really one of those is weight loss. And for some people, that is in the form of using an appetite suppressant. Whether that is their main formula for weight loss or whether they use that kind of in addition to the exercise and watching what they eat and all that jazz. But let’s talk about appetite suppressants. And I guess basically, just at the very elementary level, what is an appetite suppressant? 

CR: So, an appetite suppressant is something that suppresses your appetite obviously. But you know, a lot of people think that appetite originates in your stomach and your gut because that’s where you feel hunger, right? But really, a lot of appetite is stimulated from the brain. So, it all starts here (points to head). And so, your body sends hormones to your stomach that says I’m hungry, I need to eat. I need calories. But then there’s also feedback from the stomach that goes back to your brain telling your brain when it’s full or when it wants more or when it’s not satisfied. So, appetite stimulants sort of work in those two areas. One to maybe increase your energy level. So, you are burning more calories. But also to suppress that hunger. I mean it’s almost kind of like those cravings that people have. But they also sometimes work in the brain to kind of help control those kind of impulses to eat and binge. Because this is a very popular time of year. The days are short. It’s dark, you go home, people are lonely, you want carbs. You want to eat right, right? So, this kind of helps with curbing those cravings. 

MR: So, are these a good idea by and large? 

CR: So by and large, I think you have to be careful because there’s a lot out there. So, if you go online right now and you google appetite stimulants. Or suppressants. Sorry, you don’t stimulate it, you want to suppress it. You will see a lot that is on the market. There’s a lot of things that are over the counter and there are things that are prescription as well. And so, you know, consulting with your physician to kind of see number one, what’s the best choice for you. Of course, you’re going to get the good old diet and exercise speech from your primary care physician or whoever you’re seeing for weight loss. But a lot of these things are not, you know, approved by the FDA for controlling appetite. And so, there’s a lot of variation sometimes in what’s in those pills and what you could be taking. And if you have something like high blood pressure, or you have something like anxiety, or you have something else that’s going on, sometimes it can make it worse. So, the best place to start- think about talking to your primary care doctor. You know, appetite suppressants for the long term are not like the solution. But they may for some people to be a really good start. You know, especially at the beginning of the year when you want to get that jump start. You want to get started on your weight loss program and you’re feeling lethargic, and you’d like to have a little bit more energy. And you’d like to begin to control the appetite because all we’ve done for the last several weeks, is eat all those things that make us feel so good, you know. 

MR: Because it’s been hard. We’ve had a hard two years.  

CR: Yeah, we had the whole pandemic. And when people are stressed, you know, your body secretes hormones that increase your appetite. So, stress is a real big issue as far as driving hunger. 

MR: What about those individuals who, let’s be honest, they’re not going to talk to the primary care. They’re headed to Walgreens, CVS, or Target. And they are looking over the counter and sure, I saw this commercial. And you know, she looked great in her bikini. You know, that’ll work for me. I mean (is there) anything that we need to just be mindful of? An ingredient like- you wouldn’t want ephedrine, right? That might not even be legal anymore, I’m not sure. But, things that we could just keep in mind for those people who just are done and they are headed to Target to pick something up. 

CR: So, what you’ll see in a lot of those things are stimulants. Like, I think the most common thing or the most common thing we can compare that to is caffeine. So, caffeine is sort of is a natural stimulant. It’s also a natural appetite suppressant. So, you’ll see something similar to caffeine or something along those lines that are in the stimulant family in those products. So, I think what you have to know is that these are for a sort of a short-term solution. The best weight loss occurs over the year. You’re not going to look beachbody by, you know, a 12 week course of appetite stimulants. Unless you’re already pretty close to your goal weight. But for people who are pretty overweight, you know, if you weigh 200 pounds, 5% is a significant weight loss. So, kind of looking at what those ingredients are. Read the cautions that a lot of times you’ll see. Because if you do have diabetes or something else going on, you would want to be careful about your selection of those things. 

MR: Okay? And as you said, these are not long-term solutions. About how long should someone be taking appetite suppressants if they’re going to jump on that wagon? 

CR: Right. So, 12 weeks is sort of the general rule of thumb. So, you know, you don’t want to do more than that. Of course, you know, in the process of doing that- thinking about what you’re going to do in your next steps. You know, you’re going to get in your exercise routine. You’re going to be eating better. If you do start to see- I mean the most common thing is people have heart racing, may be increased sweating, getting shaky- stop, you know. If it doesn’t improve with that, then you know, definitely seek care. A lot of times people will feel that kind of rush from it. And so, people have described like tingling in the scalp and the lips and stuff like that. And those may be a little bit too much for you. And especially if you’re a smaller person because, you know, you’re getting one size fits all. No pun intended. You know, if you’re a smaller person you may have more adverse effects. 

MR: I like what you said too about thinking what your next step is. Where at the end of those 12 weeks- because if you go back to eating the way you were 12 weeks before- it’s all coming back. And so that 12 weeks that you were on the appetite suppressant really just made you fabulous for 12 weeks. But then, you’re right back down. So that’s a really good point using that time to start to instill healthy routine and healthier habits. Getting the junk food out of the house and then don’t bring it back in, right? 

CR: And that’s the danger to the appetite suppressants- is that you do the 12 weeks and then you go right back to your old habits, right? And so, you see a lot of rebound with weight gain. And sometimes people would gain even more of their pounds back. Because they have deprived themselves for so long, they go right back to eating and maybe even eating even more than they were before. 

MR: So then what happens at the end of those 12 weeks when you stop taking them? Could you experience any type of withdrawals or anything like that? Or are we not really going down that road because of the type of suppressant that it is. 

CR: Right. So again, thinking about things like caffeine because a lot of us have had a lot of experience with caffeine and have tried to quit using caffeine or coffee, you know. Or maybe reduce our use of it. So, things that we’ve seen commonly are some symptoms of like headache and just fatigue and not feeling well. So, some people, sometimes people will have some kind of withdrawal symptoms as their decreasing their dose or going off the medication. So just again, probably a good reason to kind of do that consultation with a professional nutritionist. You know someone who works in the weight loss area or if you’re talking with your family doctor or your family physician. Yeah.