Clinical Health Updates

Small but prolonged weight loss maintenance with orlistat (Xenical)

Clinical Question:
After patients have lost weight, can long-term orlistat help them keep it off?

Bottom Line:
In obese patient who lost at least 5% of their body weight on a very-low-calorie diet, continuous orlistat (Xenical) treatment for 3 years allowed them to keep off more weight than those treated with placebo. The numbers were not striking; treated patients regained an average 2.2 kg less than placebo-treated patients after 3 years. There was also less incidence of new diabetes diagnoses in the treated patients, which echoes results found in other studies.

Richelsen B, Tonstad S, Rossner S, et al. Effect of orlistat on weight regain and cardiovascular risk factors following a very-low-energy diet in abdominally obese patients. Diabetes Care 2007;30:27-32.

Study Design:
Randomized controlled trial (double-blinded)

The authors investigated the efficacy of orlistat on the maintenance of weight loss over 3 years following a major weight loss induced by very-low-energy diet (VLED) in obese patients with metabolic risk factors such as dyslipidemia, impaired fasting glucose, and diet-treated type 2 diabetes. Initially, weight loss was induced by an 8-week VLED (600-800 kcal/day) in 383 patients with a mean BMI of 37.5 kg/m(2) (range 30.0-45.2). Those who lost > or = 5% of their body weight (309 of 383 patients) were then randomized to receive lifestyle counseling for 3 years together with either orlistat 120 mg t.i.d. or matching placebo capsules. Primary end points were the maintenance of > or = 5% weight loss after 3 years. Additionally, differences in the development of type 2 diabetes between orlistat and placebo were analyzed. The VLED induced a mean weight loss of 14.4 +/- 2.0 kg among the subsequently randomized patients. The mean weight gain after 3 years was lower with orlistat than with placebo (4.6 +/- 8.6 vs. 7.0 +/- 7.1 kg; P <> or =5% weight loss also favored orlistat (67 vs. 56%; P = 0.037). Waist circumference was significantly more reduced in the orlistat group (P < 0.05), but no other differences in the risk factors were observed between the two groups. The incidences of new cases of type 2 diabetes were significantly reduced in the orlistat group (8 cases out of 153 subjects) versus placebo (17 cases out of 156 subjects) (P = 0.041).