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Don't Take These 3 Weight Loss Drugs Without Reading This First!

Tim Boyer's picture
Weight Loss Drug

A recent scientific review of the effectiveness of 3 weight loss drugs on over 24,000 study participants has revealed some surprising results that individuals wanting to lose weight with weight loss drugs need to be aware of.

Researchers at the University of Leicester have found that 3 weight loss drugs coupled with lifestyle advice are effective in reducing weight and body mass index (BMI). The findings were the result of a review of 94 studies involving over 24,000 individuals of which the researchers were mining data in a comparative analysis of the weight loss drugs orlistat, rimonabant and sibutramine to determine their effectiveness with and without lifestyle counseling toward individual weight loss.

The researchers found that within a few months of using the 3 weight loss drugs orlistat, rimonabant and sibutramine, that the weight loss participants reduced their weight on average by approximately 6, 14 and 25 pounds respectively. Furthermore, that the drugs combined with weight loss counseling resulted in more weight loss than taking either placebos, drugs alone or counseling alone.

However, while all three drugs were found to be very effective toward weight loss, two of the more effective weight loss drugs were removed from further consideration in their review because of side effects that outweighed the benefits of weight loss.

The two weight loss drugs removed from the review are rimonabant and sibutramine.

Rimonabant (brand name Acomplia) has been associated with troubling psychiatric side effects that researchers believe are linked to a receptor in the brain called TRPV1, which is central to learning and memory. The side effect of large doses of rimonabant is believed to block the TRPV1 brain receptors and thereby cause depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

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Sibutramine (brand name Meridia) works by affecting the area in your brain that controls hunger and thereby provides a sense of fullness and satisfaction. However, this weight loss drug has now been withdrawn from the US and Canadian markets due to side effects associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

The least powerful, but still effective weight loss drug orlistat (brand name Xenical or its over-the-counter little brother Alli), is considered to be safer and can be prescribed for weight loss.

According to Laura Gray, lead author of the report, “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.”

Orlistat works by decreasing the absorption of fat by the intestines, which in turn reduces the number of calories you absorb. Without orlistat, lipase—an enzyme found in the digestive tract—helps break down dietary fat into smaller components that are then stored in your body.With orlistat, the lipase enzyme is disabled, which prevents the breaking down of fat in your digestive tract. Undigested fat then continues through the intestines and is eliminated through bowel movements— which results in some rather unpleasant side effects such as urgent bowel movements, diarrhea and gas with oily discharge.

The researchers concluded that in spite of the withdrawal of the weight loss drugs rimonabant and sibutramine, that there may be a place in clinical practice for similar drugs if side effects can be avoided, but still advise that a modified lifestyle is a healthier 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…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,” he states.

For three safe, belly fat busting supplements, see what Dr. Oz recommends in place of weight loss drugs.

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Reference:A systematic review and mixed treatment comparison of pharmacological interventions for the treatment of obesity”; Obesity Reviews early online issue Jan. 30, 2012; L. J. Gray, N. Cooper, A. Dunkley, F. C. Warren, R. Ara, K. Abrams, M. J. Davies, K. Khunti, and A. Sutton.