Background: Obesity causes serious medical complications and impairs quality of life. However, its management remains challenging.
Objective: To assist health professionals who counsel patients who are overweight or obese by discussing the possible add-on value of new drugs over lifestyle interventions.
Methods: A critical analysis is made of the available evidence of the long-term efficacy of diet and exercise and/or anti-obesity agents such as orlistat, sibutramine and rimonabant.
Results/conclusion: Lifestyle interventions remain the cornerstone of the treatment of obesity, but adherence is poor and long-term success is modest. Pharmacological agents may be useful adjuncts for improving weight loss and maintenance, and health outcomes, and should be continued in good responders. Drug therapy and lifestyle intervention are not opponent strategies, but should probably be combined to tackle obesity.