DRAMATIC effects have been seen from a weight loss recipe that combines anti-addiction drugs with dieting and exercise.
A group of obese trial patients put on the programme lost up to 6% of their bodyweight over the course of a year.
The study authors said the improvements were “clinically meaningful” and may reduce the risk of death.
However, the treatment’s success was tempered by a lack of significant reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
US researchers recruited 1,742 patients aged 18 to 65 for the 56-week trial, but only half saw it through to the end.
Participants were randomly prescribed either a combination of the drugs naltrexone and bupropion or “dummy” placebo pills.
Naltrexone is commonly used to treat alcoholics and heroin addicts, while bupropion is better known as the anti-smoking drug Zyban.
Both are known to affect appetite and reduce food cravings.
At the same time, the trial patients were given advice on lifestyle changes which included cutting down on calorie consumption and increasing exercise levels. Patients had an average weight of around 100 kilograms (15.7 stone) at the start of the study.
Their Body Mass Index, a measurement of weight relative to height, averaged 36, classifying them as clinically obese. Treated participants lost between 5% and 6% of their weight, depending on which of two doses of naltrexone they were given. In comparison, patients in the placebo group lost 1.3%.
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