Pharmacotherapy of obesity: an update

Nutr Clin Care. Jan-Apr 2003;6(1):27-37.


There has been an epidemic of obesity in the last decade. In spite of the rising numbers of people who are overweight and obese, medical treatment of obesity is currently where medical treatment of hypertension was in the 1950s with only two Food and Drug Administration-approved medications for chronic weight loss and maintenance, sibutramine and orlistat. This article reviews these medications and others currently being used for weight loss and weight maintenance. Available medications for obesity include drugs that affect caloric intake and appetite and alter energy expenditure and nutrient absorption, as well as some with an unclear mechanism of action at present. Dozens of drugs in different phases of clinical investigation could be available in the next decade.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Appetite Depressants / therapeutic use
  • Drugs, Investigational / therapeutic use
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Lactones / therapeutic use
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Orlistat


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Appetite Depressants
  • Drugs, Investigational
  • Lactones
  • Orlistat