Flushing away the fat

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7162.830 (Published 26 September 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:830

Weight loss during trials of orlistat was significant, but over half was due to diet

  1. John Garrow, Former professor of human nutrition
  1. Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 2DQ

    News p 835

    Obesity (body mass index >30 kg/m2) is a serious disease which predisposes to heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, osteoathritis, obstructive sleep apnoea, gallstones, and some cancers sensitive to sex hormones. It accounts for 2-7% of total healthcare costs and a substantial proportion of disability pensions. Obesity is out of control in most affluent countries of the world, and its prevalence is increasing rapidly in developing countries. The World Health Organisation describes it as a global epidemic.1 This week, with the launch of orlistat, hopes have been raised that there is a new, effective weapon against the rising prevalence of obesity.

    In 1976 in the United Kingdom an expert committee sounded a warning that obesity was “one of the most important medical and public health problems of our time.”2 In 1980 a survey showed that 6% of men and 8% of women were obese,3 and in 1992 the government set a target that the prevalence of obesity (then 8% of men and …

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