Today, I am bringing you the latest research updates on drugs for obesity. Unfortunately, it is not all good news.
New research finds no evidence that popular slimming supplements facilitate weight loss
German researchers who evaluated the effectiveness of a broad selection of popular slimming supplements arrived at the disappointing conclusion that none of them helps with losing weight any more than placebo. They presented their results at the International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm, Sweden last month.
According to study leader Dr. Thomas Ellrott, head of the Institute for Nutrition and Psychology at the University of Göttingen Medical School, Germany:
“There are scores of slimming supplements out there claiming weight-loss effects through all sorts of mechanisms of action. We have so-called fat magnets, mobilizers and dissolvers, as well as appetite tamers, metabolism boosters, carb blockers and so on. The market for these is huge, but unlike for regulated drugs, effectiveness does not have to be proven for these to be sold. Few of these supplements have been submitted to clinical trials and the landscape of products is always changing, so we need to put them through rigorous scientific evaluation to determine whether they have any benefit.”
Anti-obesity drugs unlikely to provide lasting benefit according to scientists
Even clinically tested drugs prescribed for obesity cannot provide long-lasting benefits for those with weight problems, according to British scientists. These drugs “fail to provide lasting benefits for health and wellbeing because they tackle the biological consequences of obesity, and not the important psychological causes of overconsumption and weight gain.”
Rise in weight-loss drugs prescribed to combat childhood obesity
The number of young people prescribed anti-obesity drugs has increased 15-fold since 1999, according to a 2009 report. Most of these drugs have not been approved for use in patients under 18, yet are commonly prescribed “off-licence”, according to a British study. Most of these young people, however, stop taking the medications before effects can be measured.
According to study author Dr. Russel Viner of General and Adolescent Paediatrics Unit at University College London:
‘It’s possible that the drugs are being given inappropriately, or that they have excessive side effects that make young people discontinue their use. On the other hand they could be expecting the drugs to deliver a miracle ‘quick fix’ and stop using them when sudden, rapid weight loss does not occur.”
Experimental obesity drug avoids brain effects that troubled predecessors
On a more positive note, Danish researchers report about a promising new obesity drug that seems to have less psychological effects. The anti-obesity drug rimonabant was withdrawn from the market due to strong psychiatric effects that may have been linked to suicide. The new drug is a CB1 receptor blocker like rimonabant but of the second generation and was designed to target peripheral tissues only and thus does not affect the brain. So far, the drug has only been tested in animals but the results show a lot of promise.