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Not Another Quick-Fix Diet Pill

If you turned on your radio this morning, you may have heard news stories raving about rimonabant, the newest "wonder drug" for obesity that goes under the trade name Acomplia. All the hoopla was over a study of 3,000 patients in the United States and Canada who took rimonabant, lost weight and kept it off for two years.

Sixty percent of patients given a larger dose of rimonabant lost more than 5 percent of their body weight, while a third lost more than 10 percent. That amounts to a weight loss of 19 pounds, compared to 5.1 pounds in the placebo group. Also, the study showed that rimonabant also shrank patients' waistlines. Those on the high dose (20 milligrams) lost 3 inches around their waists, compared with 1.9 inches for those on the low dose (5 milligrams) and 1.5 inches for those on a placebo.

However, those who quit taking the pill in the second year of the study regained most of what they'd lost, suggesting that people might have to take the drug indefinitely to maintain a lower weight. Other side effects: Some people on the drug had nausea, but it usually was short-lived. The rates of anxiety and depression were no greater for those on Acomplia than those getting fake pills.

If you read my twice-weekly newsletter, however, you got the scoop on this "magic" diet pill earlier this year. At least, the lead researcher on the study admits rimonabant is not a "cure-all" for obesity. That's certainly true because a pill won't address the underlying causes of a lifestyle condition that's as complex as obesity. The only effective way to address problems associated with obesity:

Although the French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi-Aventis has not yet said whether it will seek approval to sell the drug for obesity, you know it's just a matter of time. Please don't fall for it!

USA Today November 10, 2004

ABC News November 10, 2004

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