Diet Drug Keeps Diabetes at Bay

With Lifestyle Changes, Lowers Risk of Type 2 Disease In Obese People

From the WebMD Archives

Aug. 28, 2002 -- When added to diet and lifestyle changes, the weight-loss drug Xenical may prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in obese people. This is the first time that a weight-loss drug has been found to do this in a high-risk population.

"It is a significant step forward," says study leader Lars Sjostrom, MD, in a news release. "Xenical plus diet in combination with lifestyle modification is more effective than diet and lifestyle intervention alone in both diabetes prevention and weight loss."

The new findings are from the XENDOS trial, presented recently at the 9th International Congress on Obesity in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The researchers evaluated more than 3,000 obese Swedish people aged 30-60. Patients received either Xenical plus diet and lifestyle intervention or a placebo plus diet and lifestyle intervention. Lifestyle intervention was defined as a mildly reduced-calorie diet and moderate physical exercise during the four-year trial.

Those patients who took Xenical along with implementing diet and lifestyle modifications had a 37% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those who only implemented diet and lifestyle changes.

Other findings include:

  • Those receiving Xenical showed significant improvements in cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Treatment with Xenical over the four-year study was safe, effective, and well- tolerated.
  • Short-term and long-term weight loss was greater with the Xenical plus diet and lifestyle combination.
  • Long-term weight loss was successfully maintained. Almost twice as many Xenical-treated patients had lost more than 10% of their body weight at the end of four years.

Diabetes affects an estimated 15.7 million adults in the U.S., and 90-95% of cases are type 2 diabetes. Because obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes, the prevalence of diabetes is expected to rise as more people become obese.

Xenical works by preventing about one-third of the dietary fat in food from being absorbed by the body. It was approved in 1999 for weight loss, keeping the weight off, and reducing the chances of regaining weight when used in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet.