Healthy living * Weight loss

Anti-addiction drugs boost weight loss

Addiction drugs help with weight loss Better than lifestyle changes alone

Drugs used to help combat addiction have been shown to boost weight loss in obese people, a new study has found.

Obese men and women given a pill containing the anti-addiction drugs naltrexone and bupropion lost five per cent or more of their bodyweight over a year, when compared with others who relied on a healthy diet and exercise alone to lose weight.

Naltrexone is used to reduce cravings in alcoholics and heroin addicts. The anti-depressant bupropion is also used as an anti-smoking drug.

In the study, more than 1,700 overweight and obese adults were given advice on how to lose weight through healthy diet and exercise. Two-thirds were given different doses of the combination pills to be taken twice a day. The remaining third were given a placebo.

The findings, which are published today in the Lancet, showed that those who took the drug treatment lost an average of five per cent of their body weight compared with just 1.3 per cent of those given the placebo. Only half of the adults managed to complete the 56 week trial.

Side effects associated with the drugs included nausea, headache, constipation, dizziness, vomiting, and dry mouth, ranging from mild to moderately severe.

In an accompanying editorial, Professor Arne Astrup from the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen said the drug combination did not result in a significant fall in blood pressure or LDL- cholesterol, normally seen with a weight loss of 5kg (11lb).

However, the research team from the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre, Louisiana State University, concluded: "The combination of naltrexone plus bupropion could be a useful addition to the current range of medications that facilitate adherence to lifestyle modification and produce clinically meaningful weight loss for treatment of obesity and obesity-related disorders."

This article was published on Fri 30 July 2010

Image © Knut Ekanger -

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