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Diabetes Metab. 2002 Dec;28(6 Pt 1):437-45.

New antiobesity agents in type 2 diabetes: overview of clinical trials with sibutramine and orlistat.

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  • 1Division of Diabetes, Nutrition and Metabolic Disorders, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Department of Medicine, CHU Sart Tilman, Liège, Belgium.


Besides genetic predisposition, obesity is the most important risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Even modest weight reduction can improve blood glucose control in overweight subjects. After failure of lifestyle modifications, antiobesity drugs such as orlistat, a potent and selective inhibitor of gastric and pancreatic lipases that reduces lipid intestinal absorption, or sibutramine, a noradrenaline and 5-hydroxytryptamine reuptake inhibitor that regulates food intake, may be considered to favour weight loss and/or weight maintenance. Several placebo-controlled studies have recently demonstrated that both drugs are able to promote weight loss in obese type 2 diabetic patients treated with diet alone, sulphonylureas, metformin or insulin. The greater weight reduction as compared to placebo was associated with a significant reduction of glycated haemoglobin levels and/or of the doses of classical antihyperglycaemic agents, especially in good responders who lost at least 10% of initial body weight. In addition, vascular risk factors associated to insulin resistance were also reduced after weight loss. These antiobesity agents may also contribute to delay or prevent the progression from impaired glucose tolerance to overt type 2 diabetes in at risk obese individuals ("Xenical in the prevention of diabetes in obese subjects" trial). Large long-term prospective studies, such as the "Sibutramine cardiovascular and diabetes outcome study" should better determine the place of pharmacological anti-obesity strategy in the overall management of obese patients with impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes.

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