Medication shows modest benefit in reducing weight, improving HDL, triglyceride levels

Use of the weight-loss medication rimonabant produced modest yet sustained weight loss after 2 years, and improved HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to a study in the February 15 issue of JAMA.

Approximately two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, which greatly increases the risk of developing diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease and death from related causes. Researchers believe that besides weight loss, obesity management should target improvement in certain cardiometabolic risk factors, which include abnormal cholesterol and glucose (blood sugar) levels and excess weight around the waist, according to background information in the article. Long-term weight management remains a challenge for patients and clinicians.

F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, M.D., of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, and colleagues evaluated the efficacy and safety of the weight-loss medication rimonabant in conjunction with diet and exercise in promoting reductions in body weight and waist circumference, long-term weight maintenance, and reduction of cardiometabolic risk factors in obese and higher risk overweight patients. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, conducted from August 2001 to April 2004, included 3,045 adults who were obese (body mass index 30 or greater) or overweight (body mass index greater than 27 and treated or untreated hypertension [high blood pressure] or dyslipidemia [abnormal levels of certain lipids and lipoproteins in the blood]). Patients were randomized to receive placebo, 5 mg/d of rimonabant, or 20 mg/d of rimonabant for 1 year. Rimonabant-treated patients were re-randomized to receive placebo or continued to receive the same rimonabant dose while the placebo group continued to receive placebo during year 2.

Year 1 of the study was completed by 51 percent of patients in the placebo group, 51 percent in the 5 mg of rimonabant

Contact: Elizabeth Streich
JAMA and Archives Journals

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