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Could we lose weight for good? Study says yes

A new study suggests that anti-obesity medicines and lifestyle changes could help in weight loss in the long-term

With lifestyle interventions and medical therapy patients maintained an average weight loss of more than 10 percent (Photo by i yunmai, Unsplash)

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Do you spend your life losing and gaining the same ten kilos? Turns out that this isn't inevitable. A new study has found that there are overweight and obese people who have maintained an average weight loss of 10.6 per cent over 3 to 5 years with a program of lifestyle changes in combination with anti-obesity medications.

Weight loss of more than 10 per cent provides significant health benefits, according to researchers who are presenting their findings Sunday, June 12, at ENDO 2022, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga.

"Data on the effectiveness of anti-obesity medications for long-term weight loss maintenance in the real world has been limited to 1 to 2 years," said lead researcher Michael A. Weintraub, M.D., of Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, N.Y. "Our study is unique because we analyzed weight loss maintenance over 3-5 years in more than 400 adults with overweight and obesity who were taking weight-loss medications."

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The study reviewed data from 428 patients at an academic weight management centre. All patients received counselling and focused on a low-glycemic diet and exercise by the obesity medicine specialist during their office visits. Patients were also offered additional counselling with a registered dietitian.

Medical therapy included FDA-approved and off-label weight-loss medications. The most common medications used were metformin, phentermine and topiramate. At the final visit, patients were taking an average of two medications for weight management.

The patients were followed for a median of 4.7 years. They lost and maintained an average weight loss of 10.6 per cent, which was maintained with medical therapy and lifestyle interventions over 3 to 5 years.

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"A 10 per cent weight loss is clinically significant because it is associated with improvements in cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and obstructive sleep apnea as well as improvements in mobility and overall quality of life," he said.

Rates of obesity are approaching 40 per cent in the United States, Weintraub noted. "Anti-obesity medications are an underutilized treatment option for obesity and can prevent obesity-related diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease," he said. "This research supports the utility of anti-obesity medications in achieving long-term weight loss maintenance." 

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