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WESTWOOD (CBS) — For the first time since 1999, the FDA has approved a new drug to help weight loss.
“It’s just a constant struggle,” said Nancy Miller, a Southland resident who has been trying to lose weight since she got married more than 20 years ago.
“It’s just a matter of so much food, an erratic schedule, and restaurants are good,” Miller said.
Three years ago, Miller began to make progress on her fitness goals when she joined the UCLA Center for Nutrition. Learning portion control, proper eating behavior and having peer support has contributed to her losing 70 pounds.
Miller is hesitant about the new weight loss drug approved by the FDA, Locacerin, which will be sold as Belviq. It works by triggering responses in the brain that help patients feel fuller sooner.
“When you eat, you normally have a pleasure hormone released. What this does is accentuate the effect of those pleasure hormones so you don’t have to eat as much to get the same amount of pleasure,” according to Dr. David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition.
Heber said he believes Belviq is effective but he stressed that it is not a magic pill.
“These drugs are really an adjunct to what is a basic diet and exercise program – that uses portion-controlled foods, meal replacements, shakes, and things that we use,” Heber said.
On average, those in the trial who took Belviq, along with diet and exercise, lost 5.8 percent of their body weight.
“There shouldn’t be major side effects at all…Anybody who’s on an anti-depressant that works in the same system should consult with their doctor before doing this,” Heber said.
As for Nancy Miller, she said she won’t be trying the pill – she plans on continuing her weight loss the old-fashioned way.
“We also start relying on the product, rather than our behavior, and then, after the diet, you go back to real food, real life. Where are the skills? You have to learn to not relay on the crutches,” Miller said.