Interview * with Professor Michel Krempf, endocrinologist nutritionist, University Hospital of Nantes.
To lose weight, there are on the market of food supplements and medicines, what are the major differences between the two?
First of all, a drug has been tested before being marketed, and is available on medical prescription (except in the case of Alli®). In addition, the drugs are synthetic molecules, and in-depth and controlled studies are done to prove their effectiveness, in order to obtain the marketing authorization (MA).
Food supplements are over-the-counter, often composed of natural substances, and subject to less stringent regulations and efficacy studies.
Will there ever be prescription drugs for overweight women who want to lose one or two pounds quickly?
No, I do not think so. For the simple reason that medications are indicated in the case of a person at risk, that is to say, whose overweight causes or can potentially lead to complications in the body (diabetes, cholesterol, cardio- vascular ...).
A person whose corpulence does not cause harmful or dangerous effects does not need to use these drugs. It will be enough for him to think of rebalancing his diet, to review his frequency of physical activity, and if necessary to have recourse to a dietitian for simple advice.
Can obese people lose weight effectively without going through medical treatment of any kind?
It all depends on the degree of obesity. In any case, the doctor or pharmacist (for Alli®) has a key role in counseling the patient. The drug is not a magic potion, but it participates in behavioral evolution.
Indeed, the molecules used in these drugs (orlistat and sibutramine) require a certain dietary rigor to respect.
And young children overweight? Will there ever be a medicine suitable for their age?
Current medications are not indicated for young children with obesity. The best solution therefore remains to start, from an early age, to educate children to diet, to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and to encourage them to practice a regular physical activity.
It is also advisable to use a pediatrician or nutritionist as soon as possible, at the first signs of obesity.
Interview of 2009.