FDA-Approved Drugs for Weight Loss: A Guide to the Best Options

Different FDA-approved weight loss drugs

With countless weight loss products flooding the market, it is crucial to separate the science-backed options from the fads. Losing weight can be a challenging journey for many, and diet and exercise alone are often not enough. 

As the demand for effective, safe, and reliable weight loss medication grows, so does the importance of understanding the available FDA-approved solutions.

Whether you’ve tried multiple weight loss drugs, or you’re just getting started on your weight loss journey, it is important to make the right choices and practice safe weight loss


What are FDA-approved medications for weight loss?

With obesity on the rise, the need for effective and safe weight loss medications has grown significantly. The latest data shows that in U.S. adults, 39.6% are considered obese, with another 31.6% considered overweight. 

While many of the weight loss medications on the market today were originally created for a different purpose, the FDA only approves weight loss drugs once they have been proven safe and effective through weight loss clinical trials


How do these weight loss drugs work?

These aren’t magical pills that melt away fat, though. Instead, they work with the body:

  • Suppress your appetite
  • Interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients—AKA fat
  • Adjust hormone levels
  • Boost your metabolism


Who are these weight loss medications for?

These drugs are not designed for anyone looking to shed a few pounds. FDA-approved weight loss medication is for individuals who meet very specific criteria and have not been able to effectively lose weight through traditional means. 

A good candidate for these drugs generally includes:

  • A diagnosis of obesity. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. 
  • Weight-related health conditions. Conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and high cholesterol. 

A risk assessment and medical supervision are also required for these medications. 



Semaglutide is a GLP-1 drug approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. It prompts the body to produce more insulin and reduce blood sugar and is considered effective for weight loss

You can connect with a licensed physician on the Heally platform to get a semaglutide prescription today!

It is the active ingredient in two of the most popular weight loss drugs:

  • Ozempic

GLP-1 drugs for weight loss often begin their lives as medication for diabetes.  Ozempic is no exception. This is actually a semaglutide drug for type 2 diabetes that has shown promise as a weight loss aid. 

Ozempic itself is not FDA-approved for weight loss, though it can help those taking it for diabetes lose a modest amount of weight. Possible side effects of Ozempic include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain. 

  • Wegovy

Wegovy’s active ingredient is also semaglutide, though at a higher dose than Ozempic. This is one of the FDA-approved GLP-1 drugs for weight loss for those who are obese and have at least one weight-related condition. 

Studies show that this once-weekly weight loss injection showed an average weight loss of 15% when paired with lifestyle changes. The common side effects of Wegovy are mild and will often fade as your body adjusts. 



Trulicity is another GLP-1 drug approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The active ingredient in this potential weight loss medication is dulaglutide. While it is not approved as a weight loss injection, those taking Trulicity saw a weight loss of up to 10 pounds

Side effects of Trulicity are similar to other weight loss drugs: nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fatigue. 



Saxenda is one of two GLP-1 drugs for weight loss FDA-approved for weight loss—the other being Wegovy. With an active ingredient of Liraglutide, this weight loss injection is also used to treat type 2 diabetes. 

It is an FDA-approved weight loss drug for those who are obese or those who are overweight and have at least one weight-related condition. 


How to Choose the Right FDA-Approved Weight Loss Drug for You

Choosing the right FDA-approved weight loss drug is more than just a personal decision—it is one that should involve your healthcare provider. That said, there are some essential steps to guide you through the selection process.

  • Consider your individual needs and goals. 

First, you’ll want to determine whether or not you’re eligible for weight loss medication—are you considered obese or do you have one or more weight-related conditions. Then, you can start evaluating your weight loss goals and the factors contributing to your weight-related concerns. 

Your age, overall health, any existing medical conditions, and your current lifestyle all play a role in determining which weight loss medication may be most suitable for you.

  • Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of each drug

Now that you’ve established your goals, you can involve your healthcare provider. They are a key partner in your decision-making process. They will consider your medical history, potential interactions with other medications you may be taking, and your overall health when recommending a weight loss drug. 

  • Start with a low dose and gradually increase as needed

Once you and your healthcare provider decide on a weight loss medication, it’s typically best to start with the lowest effective dose. This approach helps minimize side effects and allows you to gauge your body’s response to the medication.

Your healthcare provider will monitor your side effects and your progress and make adjustments as needed—even if that adjustment is trying a different weight loss medication


How to Stay Safe While Taking FDA-Approved Weight Loss Medication

The goal here is not just weight loss, it’s safe weight lossMedication for weight loss is only meant to be one part of your weight loss plan.  So, it is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions on dosage and frequency.

You will also want to monitor your side effects and your weight loss progress. You can discuss with your doctor whether daily or weekly weigh-ins would be more beneficial to you. 

Keeping track in a notebook, weight loss planner, or spreadsheet can help you visibly see your progress in numbers. You may also want to take body measurements before you begin and at certain intervals throughout your journey. 

If you experience any side effects, you should report them to your doctor immediately. Hesitation can lead to a larger issue. 


Stay Safe As You Lose Weight

FDA-approved weight loss medication can be a safe and effective way for you to supplement the lifestyle changes you’re already making. These medications have been rigorously tested and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, offering a medically supervised approach to help individuals achieve their weight loss goals.

If you’re frustrated with your weight and ready to start taking steps toward a healthier you, then talk to your doctor about whether or not these weight loss medications are right for you. 

We know how difficult it can be to set up an appointment and take time off work. So, we’ve made things easier. Set your appointment online and get started on your weight loss journey as soon as possible! 


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