New review confirms success of behavioural therapies for weight loss

Is it really a success when we have to resort to drugs to curb the obesity epidemic?

A review of a number of different clinical trials has demonstrated that behavioural therapy is a successful way of tackling obesity, particularly when combined with weight loss medication.

Researchers at the Center for Health Research at Kaiser Permanente in Portland (OR) looked at the results of 58 clinical trials to reach this conclusion, finding that behavioural programs, such as diet changes and goal-setting, had a significant benefit to those attempting to lose weight. On average, obese people using these behavioural methods lost seven pounds more over a period of 12 to 18 months than those who did not. The review showed that people lost more weight the more intensive a program was, losing an average of nine to 15 pounds as part of a comprehensive program.

The team, led by Dr Erin LeBlanc, also found that the addition of weight loss medication like Xenical also increased the amount of weight lost, with people losing an average of eleven to 22 pounds while taking Xenical in comparison to seven to 13 pounds with just behavioural methods. Xenical is the only weight loss medication still approved, after competitors such as Reductil and Accomplia were taken off the market due to safety concerns.

This review was undertaken in order to help the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) with regards to possible updates on their recommendations concerning obesity screening and treatment. The USPSTF recommended in 2003 that every adult in the United States should undergo obesity screening. It is possible that these recommendations could be updated in light of this review’s findings.

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