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Drug appears to help obese teens control weight

June 20, 2005|From Newsday

Obese teenagers who took the weight loss drug orlistat while making lifestyle changes gained less weight over 54 weeks, on average, than a control group of teens who changed behaviors but took a dummy pill, a study has found.

Overall, teens taking orlistat experienced a reduction in body mass index, a critical measure of whether one's weight falls within a healthy range for one's height, while those in the placebo group saw their BMIs rise. Weight increased by about a pound on orlistat and by almost seven pounds for the placebo group.

A report on the study of 539 patients age 12 to 16 was published in the June 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

The study was the first randomized clinical trial to evaluate the use of orlistat, brand named Xenical, in adolescents, and it was published along with an editorial cautioning against using the drug as "stand-alone treatment" to combat rising rates of obesity among children and youth.

The researchers noted that the benefits of the drug were modest: Overall, decreases in body mass index occurred in both groups during the first 12 weeks of the study, but then stabilized with orlistat and started climbing back up past the baseline for patients taking placebos.

"This should not be considered a miracle drug," said author Dr. Jean Pierre Chanoine, of the British Columbia Children's Hospital in Vancouver.

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