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Obesity: Rimonabant can give modest weight loss after one year

Rimonabant is a selective cannabinoid-1 receptor antagonist that is currently undergoing phase III trials to investigate whether it can help obese people lose weight. A review of the early research shows that it can produce a 5% reduction in weight after one year.

The increasing worldwide prevalence of obesity is creating a growing demand for effective treatments. One possible option is rimonabant. Cochrane Review Authors analysed data from four randomized controlled studies in which people were either given 20 mg rimonabant, 5 mg rimonabant or a placebo. At the same time they all followed a low calorie diet. Each of the trials ran for 1 year.

Over the year, people taking 20 mg rimonabant lost 4.9 kg more than those given the placebo. Those taking 5 mg only lost 1.3 kg more when compared with placebo.

Taking the higher dose of 20 mg rimonabant did, however, cause significantly more adverse effects, which may account for the fact that 40% of people overall dropped out of the trials early

“Even modest amounts of weight loss may be beneficial, though drug therapy in obesity should always be considered in connection with non-pharmacological interventions,” says lead author, Cintia Curioni who works at the Instituto de Medicina Social, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Authors also comment that preventing non-obese individuals becoming obese, and using non-pharmacological interventions should remain the cornerstones of obesity therapy. Better quality studies with longer follow-up and outcomes which are important for patients, such as health-related quality of life, are needed to establish the place of rimonabant in the treatment of obesity.

Polly Young | alfa
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