Magazine article Science News

Lingering Loss: In 2-Year Diet Trial, New Pill Keeps off Weight

Magazine article Science News

Lingering Loss: In 2-Year Diet Trial, New Pill Keeps off Weight

Article excerpt

An experimental diet drug looks like a long-distance success. New data indicate that obese adults who lose weight during a year of taking rimonabant and dieting keep the weight off during the following year, if they continue the regimen.

The drug, which Paris-based manufacturer Sanofi-Aventis calls Acomplia, blocks cells' receptors for chemicals called cannabinoids, which include substances in marijuana. Some cravings for food and addictive substances depend on those receptors.

Yearlong trials of rimonabant had suggested that the drug aids initial weight loss. But the real test of an obesity treatment is whether weight shed in one year stays away the next.

So, endocrinologist F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer of Columbia University and his colleagues at 64 U.S. and 8 Canadian institutions enlisted more than 3,000 obese volunteers, mostly women, who agreed to take a daily pill while attempting to diet for 2 years. Throughout the study, investigators recorded the volunteers' weight, blood concentrations of cholesterols, and other indicators of metabolic health.

During the first year, two-fifths of the volunteers took 20 milligrams per day of rimonabant, a similar number took 5 mg/day, and the rest took a placebo pill.

The higher close of the drug produced the greatest benefit, including the most lost weight and the healthiest cholesterol concentrations, Pi-Sunyer reported Nov. 9 at a meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans.

Weight loss among volunteers who got rimonabant throughout the study "was fully maintained in year two,' says Pi-Sunyer. …

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