San Diego scientists examined FDA-approved drug treatments for obesity and found out that some of them did not provide high rates of effectiveness when trying to lose weight. However, it seems that some weight loss drugs lead to better results than others.
The study aimed to compare weight loss drugs and evaluate the adverse effects these sort of medications could have in patients. Researchers carried out the study using a systematic review of 28 previous randomized clinical trials.
Even if these type of drugs were formerly approved in treatments for obesity and weight loss, they have not been tested for their efficacy and safety in long or short terms.
Weight loss drugs compared by researchers were: lorcaserin, naltrexone-bupropion, orlistat, phentermine-topiramate, and liraglutide.
As per Siddharth Singh, the senior author of the study and a gastroenterologist at the University of California, it is the first time such drugs are compared and analyzed for the purposes they have been designed for.
The findings showed that after one year, between 44 and 75 percent of participants who took one of the weight loss drugs lost just 5 percent of body weight. A result that might be insignificant if we consider the time of the treatment (one year) and the alleged effectiveness these drugs should have. Because of their effects on the human body, they should lead to loss quick weight.
— Timothy Caulfield (@CaulfieldTim) June 5, 2016
Weight loss drugs comparison sheds light on actual effectiveness
Among the weight loss drugs, phentermine-topiramate showed the most weight loss after one year. Liraglutide got the second place in weight loss effectiveness, using this medication patient lost 11.7 pounds on average.
On the third and fourth place, there were two drugs made by San Diego’s pharmaceutical companies. Naltrexone-bupropion with an average of 11 pounds of weight loss and lorcaserin with 7.1 lbs respectively.
The drug treatment for obesity that leads to the lowest rate in weight loss was orlistat with only 5.4 pounds in patients who took the drug during one-year treatment. On average, those participants who received one of the five examined drugs the drug 19.4 lbs.
However, on the course of the experiment, some participants quit the intake of the weight loss drugs because they did not notice any improvement in their weight loss treatment.
Singh considers that even if the drugs his team evaluated have been tested and approved for treatments in patients with overweight or obesity, they are not enough to suffice at the beginning of the process. Some other aspects should be considered, he added.
“I view these medications as potentially being used to ‘kick start’ weight loss, but a comprehensive lifestyle change with a healthy well-portioned diet and exercise is needed to make a lasting change,” said Singh on a statement.
Furthermore, Singh states that although the low rates produced by the drugs, losing 5 or 10 percent of body weight can be beneficial for obese people. According to Singh, what should be kept in mind is that the intake alone of those medications may not bring the expected results. The secret lies in eating healthy and exercising consistently, it will not only help in weight loss but also it will let people maintain that weight loss.
In turn, the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness, Dr. Scott Kahan says that the findings are certainly relevant for regulatory reasons. Such evidence might underestimate the expectations of those patients who might have considered starting treatment for weight loss using these drugs.
Adverse effects of drug therapy for obesity
The study, published on Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers also found out that those participants who took one of the five drugs stopped the treatment because of the adverse effects the drugs carried on them.
Researchers found that some of them could cause headaches, dizziness, even changes in bowel functioning. In particular, liraglutide might increase the risk of the appearance of thyroid tumors.
Hence, drug treatment for obesity should be deeply considered before start a weight loss process with these medications. It is not only about losing weight, but also preserving health and improving lifestyles.
According to Kahan, when looking for best weight loss, patients should incorporate a healthy diet and change their daily behavior. Results in patients vary and the treatment in obese people should be customized and evaluated by specialists. Weight loss drugs can be taken but alongside with behavioral changes.
— FDA FOOD (@FDAfood) June 11, 2016