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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1999 Dec;23(12):1333-6.

Initial weight loss as a predictor of response to obesity drugs.

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University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison 53706, USA.



Initial weight loss has been used as a predictor of long-term response to obesity drugs. Discontinuation of drugs has been recommended if weight loss is not > or =1.81 kg (4 lb) in the first month of treatment.


We compared the weight loss response at 6 months of patients losing > or =1.81 kg (responders) vs. < 1.81 kg (non-responders) in the first month of treatment with the combination of fenfluramine and phentermine.


Outcomes at 6 months in 975 patients treated in a comprehensive program of phentermine (15-30 mg/d) d,l-fenfluramine (20-60 mg/d), were compared for responders vs. non-responders.


In the total population, first month weight loss highly correlated with % reduction in body mass index (BMI) after 6 months of treatment (P<0.001). The reduction in baseline BMI after 6 months treatment was greater for the responders (15.9% vs. 10%, P<0.02). However, the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) guidelines for drug treatment of obesity state that a 5% weight loss produces significant health benefits, and may be used as a criteria for success. At 6 months, 76%, 37% and 14% of the non-respondents had lost > or = 5%, > or = 10% and > or = 15% of baseline BMI, respectively. After 6 months treatment the reductions in serum cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol were 0.55, 0.31 and 0.42 mmol/L, respectively, (P< or =0.006), for the non-responders. Adverse effects after 6 months of treatment and the dropout rates after 1 y of treatment were not significantly different for the two groups.


Although, the first month weight loss predicted the long-term response to phen-fen treatment, it was inadequate in identifying the non-responders and may unnecessarily preclude potential beneficiaries of the treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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