The new year is usually a time to jump-start healthy habits. But millions of Americans need medical assistance to manage their weight, and they likely aren't getting it.
"We're still in a state today where the average primary care doctor, the average psychologist, even the average dietitian doesn't really have a strong background in obesity management to support most of their patients," said Dr. Scott Kahan, the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness.
Kahan says over the last decade, the FDA has approved about six weight-management medications. The problem is that some of those medications require injections, and insurance may not cover them. Also, few people or professionals know about them.
"While some of them can do just fine without medication and others might do very well with bariatric surgery, there are quite a lot that are very good technical candidates for medications and would likely have a much better course in terms of managing the obesity and in terms of long term health and prevention," Kahan said.
Kahan says people who are ideal candidates for weight management medication include people who are roughly 30 pounds or more overweight and have health-related issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain or sleep issues.
"Those are especially important considerations, where the obesity is getting more in the way of your life and your health and where a modest amount of weight loss may significantly improve many of those things," Kahan said.
The FDA could consider another weight management drug for approval as early as this year.