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Anti-obesity drugs help weight loss, so does modified lifestyle - review

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday Feb 5, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A review article first published online on 30 JAN 2012 in the journal Obesity Review says that anti-obesity interventions including prescription medications and lifestyle advice are effective at helping weight loss.

The review conducted by L.J. Gray of the University of Leicester, Leicester UK and colleagues was based ninety-four studies of 24,808 individuals, which were intended to test how effective orlistat, rimonabant or sibutramine on weight loss or body mass index change at 3, 6 or 12 months, compared to the baseline weight or BMI.

Among the randomized controlled trials, 83 trials recorded weight change while 41 measured the change in BMI.  All results were in comparison with placebo or no intervention.

The researchers found all active drugs were effective at helping weight loss and reducing BMI.  These drugs are intended to prevent obesity or help weight loss in obese people.

Specifically, orlistat reduced weight by 2.65 kg after three-month intervention.  Sibutramine at a dose of 15 mg per day led to a reduction in body weight 6.35 kg while 10 mg per day caused weight loss of 5.42 kg.  In comparison, Rimonabant resulted in weight loss of 11.23 kg after a three-month intervention, compared to 4.55 kg after a 12 month-intervention.

Lifestyle advice alone on the other hand were also effective in helping study participants lose weight.  It led to weight loss both at 6 and 12 months, but was less effective, compared to pharmacological interventions. 

In conclusion, modest weight loss was associated with all pharmacological and lifestyle interventions. 

Sibutramine and rimonabant were withdrawn, according to the authors. But they said "there may be a place in clinical practice for similar drugs if side effects could be avoided."  

Drugs are effective, but as always, all drugs can lead to side effects or adverse effects.  Unless absolutely necessary, try to modify lifestyle, particularly your diet to prevent weight gain at least, and better yet, reduce your body weight.

Obesity is a problem in the West where high fructose corn syrup was found associated with an epidemic of obesity.  Fructose in high fructose corn syrup and table sugar has been found more detrimental than glucose found in cane sugar or beet sugar.

If someone wants weight loss or prevent becoming obese in the first place, he may try avoiding beverages and foods that contain high fructose corn syrup or table sugar, some experts advised.

A few things people may do include eating foods with high fiber and low calories, avoiding high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar, engaging moderate physical activity, using small plates for meals, eating as slowly as you can or trying to chew 30 times before swallowing it, drinking as much water as you can, and eating only low salt foods. 

Food consumers should remember this, a food with high salt tends to taste better, and you tend to eat more of it, which means you are more likely to overeat.  Sodium mono glutamate can also boost palatability, so you also need to avoid MSG.  

Obesity is preventable and reversible by following a health diet or lifestyle.  

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