Diet aid works best with other life changes

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center report today in the Archives of Internal Medicine ( January 22, 2001) that obese women lost an average 24.4 pounds (10.8 percent of their body weight) in one year, when they used the weight loss medication MERIDIA in combination with a comprehensive lifestyle modification program that included diet and exercise -- compared to a loss of only 8.4 pounds (4.1%) for women treated by medication alone.

Participants in both groups were prescribed 10-to-15 milligrams per day of MERIDIA, a weight loss medication manufactured by the Knoll Pharmaceutical Co. They were also told to limit their daily food intake to 1,200-to-1,500 calories, and to exercise four to five times a week. For the first five months, those in the lifestyle modification program also attended weekly group sessions in which they learned to keep food and activity records, to plan their meals and snacks, and to control situations associated with problem eating.

Women in the group that received only medication had 10 brief physician visits over the year, during which a doctor monitored their health but did not provide detailed instruction in lifestyle modification. These participants received general advice and support, comparable to treatment that would be provided by most primary care doctors.

The results clearly demonstrate the benefits of combining medication with lifestyle modification, said Thomas A. Wadden, Ph.D., director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania and the studys lead author.

These medications may decrease the desire to eat by reducing hunger and cravings or by increasing feelings of fullness; they modify internal (physiological) factors that control eating, Wadden said. Lifestyle modification, by contrast, helps people control their external environment by teaching them to reduce portion sizes, avoid fast-food restaurants, store foods out of sight, and plan meals and

Contact: Ellen O'Brien
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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