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Few adult Americans used prescription diet drugs to lose weight in recent years, mostly thanks to varying insurance coverage and physician concerns about side effects, according to a new federal government report.

Of an estimated 71.6 million U.S. adults who were considered obese, approximately 660,000 per year, on average, used an obesity drug between 2012 through 2016. But among those who reported trying to lose weight, only 3% reported that they took a prescription medication to lose weight between 2013 through 2016, according to estimates cited by the Government Accountability Office.


The low usage rate occurred even though about 38% of all U.S. adults from 2013 through 2016 — or one in four Americans — were considered obese. And the GAO also pointed out that the American Medical Association six years ago classified obesity as a disease that requires a range of interventions for treatment and prevention.

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