A study led by the University of Leicester has found that anti-obesity drugs coupled with lifestyle advice are effective in reducing weight and BMI.
Dr Laura Gray and colleagues from the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Leicester have published a paper in the journal Obesity Review which looks at the effectiveness of anti –obesity drugs and a modified lifestyle on weight loss and body mass index. The research was funded by an National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme.
The review was based on 94 studies including over 24,000 individuals and assessed how effective the drugs were in terms of weight loss and body mass index at 3, 6 and 12 months. Two of the included drugs (sibutramine and rimonbant) were withdrawn from use during the review due to possible side effects.
The research also looked at the effect of lifestyle advice on weight loss. Lifestyle advice alone led to weight loss at 6 and 12 months but had less effective results in comparison to the anti-obesity drugs.
Laura Gray, lead author of the report said: “This is the first review to combine all available evidence for anti-obesity drugs in a single analysis. In clinical practice, orlistat should be considered to aid weight reduction with lifestyle interventions in those individuals who have not been successful in reducing their weight with lifestyle alone. The effectiveness of the withdrawn interventions – sibutramine and rimonabant – suggests that more effective drugs may be available in the future if the side effect risk can be alleviated.”
Researchers recognize that although drugs are effective, all drugs can lead to several side effects and it is advised that a modified lifestyle is a beneficial way to prevent weight gain and to reduce body weight.
Professor Kamlesh Khunti from the University of Leicester added: “Our study shows that some of the medications that we were using for weight management were beneficial, however, they have had to be withdrawn because of side effects. We are therefore limited in terms of drug treatment for weight reduction. Nevertheless, it is reassuring to note that lifestyle interventions (diet and exercise) were also effective, especially in people with diabetes at reducing weight in our study. Lifestyle interventions should therefore be promoted for weight reduction as they also have many other benefits as well.”
Obesity is a growing problem in the West. People should remember that eating food with high fibre, engaging in physical activity, drinking water and eating low salt food are ways to prevent or reverse weight gain.
Full results from the research will be published in the HTA journal in March.
Note to newsdesk: For more information, contact Laura Gray: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme funds research about the effectiveness, costs, and broader impact of health technologies for those who use, manage and provide care in the NHS. It is the largest NIHR programme and publishes the results of its research in the Health Technology Assessment journal, with over 600 issues published to date. The journal’s 2010 Impact Factor (4.197) ranked it in the top 10% of medical and health-related journals. All issues are available for download free of charge from the website, www.hta.ac.uk.
2. The National Institute for Health Research provides the framework through which the research staff and research infrastructure of the NHS in England is positioned, maintained and managed as a national research facility. The NIHR provides the NHS with the support and infrastructure it needs to conduct first-class research funded by the Government and its partners alongside high-quality patient care, education and training. Its aim is to support outstanding individuals (both leaders and collaborators), working in world class facilities (both NHS and university), conducting leading edge research focused on the needs of patients. www.nihr.ac.uk
Report by Hannah Adkins