Background: Overweight and obesity are major health burdens, and the military veteran population may be disproportionately affected. Multiple new pharmacologic agents and combinations have been approved by the FDA for use in medical weight management. Using deidentified records from our local interdisciplinary weight management clinic and a national clinical data repository, we assessed obesity pharmacotherapy use and its real-world effectiveness for weight loss and improvement of comorbid metabolic parameters in this vulnerable population.
Methods: During the initial year of the local weight management clinic, we found over 50 records with monthly followup of lifestyle intervention augmented by obesity pharmacotherapy. In the national clinical data repository, we identified over 2 million records for unique individuals prescribed bupropion-naltrexone, liraglutide, lorcaserin, orlistat, or phentermine-topiramate, and metformin considered as a control prescription. We selected records with detailed documentation of weight trends from 1 year before to 1 year after first prescription date for further analysis.
Results: The most commonly prescribed medications in our local weight management clinic were metformin, liraglutide, orlistat, and combination phentermine/topiramate. On average, we observed −4.0 ± 2.1 kg weight loss over the initial 6-month intervention in records that completed at least 3 visits within this period. In the national database, over 800,000 records for an obesity or control metformin prescription provided adequate weight documentation to compare weight slopes during the year before and after the prescription start date. Records for metformin prescriptions showed −0.04 ± 0.008 kg/week difference in weight slope over one year before versus after the prescription start date. The greatest difference in weight slope was seen with phentermine-topiramate (−0.13 ± 0.03 kg/week), followed by lorcaserin, liraglutide, bupropion-naltrexone, and orlistat.
Conclusions: Our data suggests that veterans with obesity experience weight loss at 1 year follow-up when engaged with our interdisciplinary weight management clinic. Nationally, veterans with obesity experience modest weight loss when prescribed pharmacotherapy. Taken together, our two data sources provide complementary perspectives to help guide obesity pharmacotherapy in veterans with obesity.