severe side effects (Yanovski & Yanovski, 2002, p. 592), andseveral others were classified by the Drug EnforcementAdministration as having the “potential for abuse” (Hoppin &Taveras, 2004, Weight-Loss Drugs section, para. 6). Currently onlytwo medications have been approved by the FDA for long-termtreatment of obesity: sibutramine (marketed as Meridia) andorlistat (marketed as Xenical). This section compares studies onthe effectiveness of each.Sibutramine suppresses appetite by blocking the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in thebrain. Though the drug won FDA approval in 1998, experiments to test its effectiveness for younger patients came considerablylater. In 2003, University of Pennsylvania researchers Berkowitz, Wadden, Tershakovec, and Cronquist released the first double-blind placebo study testing the effect of sibutramineon adolescents, aged 13-17, over a 12-month period. Theirfindings are summarized in Table 1.
Control Medicated Control Medicated Mos. 6-12: increased blood pressure; increased pulse rate Increased blood pressure; increased pulse rate None Oily spotting; flatulence; abdominal discomfort
Source: Diana Hacker (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006).When this articlewas first cited, allfour authors werenamed. In subse-quent citations ofa work with threeto five authors,“et al.” is usedafter the first author’s name.Obesity in Children 7After 6 months, the group receiving medication had lost 4.6 kg (about 10 pounds) more than the control group. But during the second half of the study, when both groups receivedsibutramine, the results were more ambiguous. In months 6-12, the group that continued to take sibutramine gained an average of 0.8 kg, or roughly 2 pounds; the control group, which switchedfrom placebo to sibutramine, lost 1.3 kg, or roughly 3 pounds(p. 1808). Both groups received behavioral therapy covering diet,exercise, and mental health.These results paint a murky picture of the effectiveness of the medication: While initial data seemed promising, the results after one year raised questions about whethermedicationinduced weight loss could be sustained over time. As Berkowitz et al. (2003) advised, “Until more extensive safety and efficacy data are available, . . . weight-loss medications should be used only on an experimental basis for adolescents” (p. 1811).
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