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Pharmacotherapy for obesity: a quantitative analysis of four decades of published randomized clinical trials

Abstract

AIM: This article provides the first comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials of medications for obesity.

METHOD: Based on stringent inclusionary criteria, a total of 108 studies were included in the final database. Outcomes are presented for comparisons of single and combination drugs to placebo and for comparisons of medications to one another.

RESULT: Overall, the medications studied produced medium effect sizes. Four drugs produced large effect sizes (ie d>0.80; amphetamine, benzphetamine, fenfluramine and sibutramine). The placebo-subtracted weight losses for single drugs vs placebo included in the meta-analysis never exceeded 4.0 kg. No drug, or class of drugs, demonstrated clear superiority as an obesity medication. Effects of methodological factors are also presented along with suggestions for future research.

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Figure 1

Notes

  1. Represents three independent studies.

  2. Represents data from a single study published in multiple articles.

  3. Represents two independent studies.

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Acknowledgements

This paper was supported by a faculty research grant from the University of Missouri-Kansas City awarded to Dr Haddock and a minority scientist development grant from the American Heart Association, awarded to Dr Poston.

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Correspondence to CK Haddock.

Appendix 1: Studies included in the meta analysis

Appendix 1: Studies included in the meta analysis

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Haddock, C., Poston, W., Dill, P. et al. Pharmacotherapy for obesity: a quantitative analysis of four decades of published randomized clinical trials. Int J Obes 26, 262–273 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0801889

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0801889

Keywords

  • pharmacotherapy
  • meta-analysis
  • clinical trials

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