A new study by the Campaign to End Obesity says obesity costs to US were double than previously estimated.
Credit: Matt Cardy

A pill to treat obesity has been approved for sale in the United States for the first time in 13 years.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said today it had backed Arena Pharmaceuticals' application to sell the weight-loss drug lorcaserin under the brand name Belviq, Agence France-Presse reported.

“Obesity threatens the overall well being of patients and is a major public health concern,” Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

“The approval of this drug, used responsibly in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, provides a treatment option for Americans who are obese or are overweight and have at least one weight-related comorbid condition."

According to Bloomberg, the tablet affects an area of the brain that helps people to eat less.

The drug makers themselves admit it is not a silver bullet for weight loss.

They also recommend people who are seriously overweight or obese to take the pill in combination with a low-calorie diet and exercise. 

Reuters said the drug has been approved for use in adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, or those with a BMI of 27 or greater – overweight – with at least one weight-related health condition such as hypertension, high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes.

Obesity is a serious public health problem in the United States, where just over a third of adults are obese. A recent study predicted 42 percent will be obese by 2030. 

More from GlobalPost: Over 40 percent of Americans could be obese by 2030, new study finds



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