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Study Shows Medication Enhances Weight Loss

By Tammy Gay


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UK College of Medicine is hosting a free seminar, "Weight Management in Adolescence: Suggestions for Teens and Parents," at 7 p.m. Monday, July 29, in 115 UK College of Nursing/Health Sciences Learning Center. For more information, call (859) 257-4058.

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July 10, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- A drug used to treat depression and smoking cessation may be an effective tool in the fight against obesity, according to a 48-week University of Kentucky study that will be published in July's Obesity Research, the leading obesity journal.

Bupropion SR (pronounced bu-pro-pee-on), which has been on the market for more than 10 years, can be an effective tool to combat obesity when combined with diet and exercise, according to the findings of a multi-center, double-blind, randomized study led by James W. Anderson, M.D., professor of medicine and clinical nutrition in the UK College of Medicine.

"Obesity clearly is increasing in this country, and the treatments we offer aren't very effective," Anderson said. "There are no magic bullets for treating obesity, but this does give us another tool in the toolbox. Diet and exercise are still keys to weight loss."

In the first 24 weeks of the study, 227 people considered clinically obese, ages 18 to 65, either took a placebo, 300 milligrams of bupropion SR daily, or 400 milligrams of bupropion SR daily.

Participants also were on a restricted diet - 600 fewer calories per day than required to maintain the participant's normal weight - using two meal replacements per day. They also recorded miles walked, kept a lifestyle diary, and received dietetic counseling every two to four weeks. Individuals assigned to 400 milligrams a day lost 10.1 percent of their initial body weight, compared to 7.2 percent for 300 milligrams and 5 percent for the placebo. In the second 24 weeks of the study, 192 participants who completed the study received bupropion and sustained their weight loss, Anderson said. During the second phase of the study, participants maintained a moderate exercise regimen.

At the end of the second session, those receiving 400 milligrams a day maintained an 8.6 percent loss of their initial body weight. Those receiving 300 milligrams maintained a 7.5 percent loss of their initial body weight. The drug, which had few side effects, is thought to work on neurochemicals in the brain that control responses to certain stimuli: for example, habitual behaviors like overeating.

Anderson next will study weight loss and adolescents using the same drug and other diet regimens.

"Obesity is a major problem in this country, particularly in Kentucky," Anderson said. "For example, 70 percent of heart attacks in women are related to obesity. We need all the weapons we can gather to fight this problem."

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