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Tuesday, 9 October, 2001, 23:32 GMT 00:32 UK
Anti-obesity drug 'keeps weight off'
Xenical the anti-obesity drug
Xenical works by blocking the digestion of fat
People who take the anti-obesity drug Xenical not only lose weight rapidly, they keep it off, research shows,

Data released at a medical meeting in Canada shows that the drug produces a 4kg loss in the first four weeks and that over 80% of patients lose at least 5% of their body weight in the first three months.

This amount of loss has been shown to clinically improve patients' health and well being.

It also motivates patients to stay on their weight loss programme to make long term changes.

A second presentation showed Xenical helps maintain weight loss for up to two years.

Clinically obese

Body Mass Index
BMI for a person who is 5ft 9ins:
130 lbs - BMI = 19.2 (underweight)
160lbs - BMI = 23.6 (normal weight)
190lbs - BMI = 28.1 (overweight)
220lbs - BMI = 32.5 (obese)
BMI is weight in kilograms divided by height in metres squared
Researchers led by Professor Hermann Toplak from the Karl-Franzens-Universitšt, Graz, Austria, assessed the impact of Xenical on 430 people who were clinically obese.

Some 83% achieved clinically meaningful weight loss of at least 5% of their body weight in the first 12 weeks of treatment.

The average weight loss achieved by these patients after 12 weeks was 8kg.

The weight loss was associated with a reduction in blood pressure - indicating that the circulatory system was benefiting.

Results from the first 12 weeks of the study also showed:

  • the greatest weight loss was seen in the first four weeks of treatment
  • patients lost a further 2 kg every 4 weeks
  • Body Mass Index was reduced by 2.9kg/m2 on average
  • Waist circumference was reduced by 6.3cm on average
Excess fat around the waist is associated with insulin resistance, high blood sugar, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.

Professor Toplak said: "This study shows the significant benefits of rapid and continuous weight loss in the first 12 weeks of treatment with Xenical.

"Not only are there associated health advantages, but patients may also improve their motivation to lose weight and experience greater satisfaction with treatment."

"One of the biggest problems with weight loss programmes is that patients drop out because they do not experience early improvements in body shape or well-being."

Long term

A second study led by Professor Aila Rissanen, of the Helsinki University Hospital, Finland found that patients who took Xenical lost on average 10.4kg over a two year period.

These patients also recorded a drop in blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence decided earlier this year to make Xenical available on the NHS to people with serious weight problems.

It is estimated the drug will cost the NHS £12m a year.

Xenical, the brand name for the drug orlistat, works by blocking the digestion of fat. It is the first treatment that does not rely on suppressing the appetite.

More than 300 million adults world-wide are overweight, and most suffer from weight-related illnesses.

In Europe, up to 20% of men and 25% of women are classified as obese, with a Body Mass Index of 30 or more. BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of your height in metres.

Treating people who are overweight accounts for up to 6% of total health care costs in developed countries.

The research was presented at a meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity in Quebec City.

See also:

01 Jun 01 | Health
Anti-obesity drug 'works well'
09 Mar 01 | Health
Green light for slimming drug
09 Mar 01 | Health
'How obesity drug helped me'
16 Nov 00 | Health
Nice decisions to be 'public'
24 May 01 | Health
New drug to beat obesity
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