Anti-obesity drugs 'fail to reduce weight'

Anti-obesity drugs are unlikely to permanently reduce patients’ weight, Canadian research findings suggests.

A meta-analysis showed little evidence that orlistat, sibutramine or rimonabant reduced patients’ weight loss by 5 per cent.

Such ‘modest’ weight loss could mean many patients will remain significantly overweight or obese despite drug treatment, say the researchers.

The study focused on 30 randomised placebo-controlled studies into anti-obesity drugs, involving almost 20,000 patients treated for at least one year.

Analysis showed that compared with placebo, orlistat reduced weight by an average of 2.9kg, sibutramine by 4.2kg and rimonabant by 4.7kg. As the average starting weight of participants was 100kg, the drugs often failed to reduce body weight by 5 per cent.

Of note, 30-40 per cent of participants dropped out of the trials, potentially affecting perceived effectiveness of the drug.

Last December, NICE published public health guidance on obesity. Use of orlistat and sibutramine were recommended if patients with a BMI of 30 or more fail to respond to lifestyle interventions.

However, treatment should only be continued beyond six months if the patient manages to lose 5 per cent body weight in that time, according to NICE.

NICE is also carrying out a technology appraisal into rimonabant, which was licensed by the EMEA last June.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

Visit the BMJ website

Comment below and tell us what you think 

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Vaccination tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK have led the largest-ever NHS vaccination programme in response...

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall

Hand PCNs control of primary care infrastructure funding, says RCGP

CCG funding for primary care infrastructure should be handed to PCNs when the bodies...

Professor Martin Marshall and Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall

Talking General Practice speaks to RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul

In-house review not enough to stop 'unjust' GMC referrals, warns BMA

Doctors' leaders have repeated calls for a full independent review of the GMC referral...

Coronavirus

How widespread is long COVID in the UK?

Millions of people in the UK are living with long COVID. GPonline looks at the data...

COVID-19 vaccination sign

GP contract for autumn COVID-19 booster campaign due shortly

GP practices in England will be invited shortly to sign up for the COVID-19 autumn...