Use of Prescription Weight Loss Pills by U.S. Adults in 1996–1998. Ann Intern Med. 2001;134:S81. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-134-4-200102200-00006
Download citation file:
Published: Ann Intern Med. 2001;134(4):S81.
Several prescription weight loss drugs have been available in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration approved phentermine in 1959 and approved fenfluramine in 1973 for short-term use (a few weeks). In 1996, dexfenfluramine was approved for longer use (up to 1 year). In 1997, sibutramine was approved for short-term use. These four drugs work by limiting hunger. Orlistat, a drug that blocks the amount of fat absorbed from food, was approved in 1999 for up to 2 years of treatment. Fenfluramine or dexfenfluramine was often used in combination with phentermine; this combined weight loss treatment is known as “fen-phen.” Reports of heart valve problems in “fen-phen” users led the manufacturer to stop selling fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine in the United States in September 1997. Little is known about how many people actually take these different drugs or how overweight these persons are when they start taking them.
To learn about who takes prescription weight loss drugs.
139,779 adults who participated in a national telephone survey about health behaviors.
State health departments conducted a telephone survey by using random-digit dialing to select a sample of adults. Among questions related to health behaviors, the survey asked whether participants had taken any physician-prescribed weight loss pills in the previous 2 years. It also asked participants who took diet pills about their height, present weight, and weight before using the pills.
More than 2 of every 100 respondents (2.5%) had taken a prescription weight loss pill during the past 2 years. This means that approximately 4.6 million U.S. adults may have used prescription diet pills in 1996–1998. Reported use was highest among women, white respondents, and Hispanic respondents. Nearly half of persons who used weight loss pills were not overweight when they started taking the drugs.
The survey did not collect information on the specific pills used; duration of treatment; drug dose; or medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes. Prescription weight loss drugs are recommended for people who are obese or those who are overweight and also have diabetes mellitus or heart disease; inappropriate drug use may therefore have been higher than this study suggests. These results might not reflect current use because different weight loss drugs are currently available.
About 1 in 40 adults in the United States used prescription weight loss pills in 1996–1998. Nearly half of the persons who used diet drugs were below the recommended minimum weight when they started taking the drugs.
The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.
Results provided by:
Copyright © 2016 American College of Physicians. All Rights Reserved.
Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
Conditions of Use
This PDF is available to Subscribers Only