Pharmacologic therapy of obesity: mechanisms of action and cardiometabolic effects

Peter D. Montan, Andreas Sourlas, Jiohanna Olivero, Delia Silverio, Eliscer Guzman, Constantine E. Kosmas


Obesity is a chronic, relapsing, multifactorial disease, which has become a serious threat to public health globally, as the worldwide prevalence of obesity increases exponentially over time. It has been well established that obesity is associated with multiple adverse cardiometabolic effects. Although lifestyle changes are the first line of therapy for obesity, these are often insufficient in attaining weight loss goals. Orlistat, phentermine/topiramate, lorcaserin, naltrexone/bupropion, and liraglutide are agents that have been approved for the treatment of obesity but their effects on cardiometabolic risk factors and outcomes have not been clearly elucidated. Given the detrimental repercussions of obesity on cardiometabolic health, there is a pressing clinical need to fully understand the effects of these agents beyond weight loss alone. Certain previous weight loss drugs have been withdrawn due to safety concerns and this underlines the need for more careful assessment of the effects of the various pharmacologic agents currently used for the treatment of obesity. This review aims to provide an overview of the mechanisms, efficacy, safety and cardiometabolic effects of the currently available pharmacologic agents for weight loss.