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Anti-addiction drugs 'improve weight loss'

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Taking anti-addiction drugs can reduce an obese person’s weight by as much as 6% in combination with dieting and exercise, researchers in the US have claimed.

Although only half of the 1,742 obese patients in the 56-week study managed to last until the end, those who did were said to experience a dramatic result.

They were randomly prescribed either a mixture of bupropion and naltrexone or placebo pills. Alcoholics and heroin addicts are often given naltrexone. Bupropion is otherwise known as Zyban, an anti-smoking treatment. Both drugs can reduce people’s appetite as well as their cravings for food.

Participants were said to have lost between 5% and 6% of their weight depending on which doses they were asked to take. Those who took only placebos lost an average 1.3% of their weight.

The weight loss is “clinically meaningful” and could point to a reduction in the risk of death through obesity, the study authors said. However, they point out that any success in the trial was dampened because no significant reduction in the participants’ blood pressure or cholesterol was recorded.

The average weight of the 18 to 65 year old patients was 15.7 stone (100kg) when the study began. Their average body mass index, a formula calculated from a person’s weight and height, was 36, meaning they could be categorised as clinically obese.

The study results were published in the online version of The Lancet journal.

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