Orlistat in the prevention of diabetes in the obese patient

Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008;4(2):325-36. doi: 10.2147/vhrm.s6808.


There has been an increase in the concern about preventing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), a disease with great and increasing prevalence. The prevalence of obesity, physical inactivity, Western processed diet, important risk factors for the development of T2DM, are also rising. Free fatty acids are increased in obesity and reduce insulin clearance and increase hepatic glucose production. Implementation of a healthy lifestyle has been show to slow the progression of impaired glucose tolerance to T2DM. Orlistat is an inhibitor of lipase activity, with proved efficacy in body weight reduction and long-term management of obesity and more favorable effects on carbohydrate metabolism and it was prospectively shown in XENDOS study that orlistat promoted long-term weight loss and prevented T2DM onset in obese individuals with normal and impaired glucose tolerance at baseline over four years. This benefit could be associated to the weight loss itself, to the limited absorption of lipids and reduction of plasma free fatty acids, to increased production of incretins or to modulation of secretion of cytokines by adipocytes, all effects secondary to orlistat treatment. A proposed strategy is to identify subjects at highest risk to receive a drug intervention, using lifestyle interventions alone at the community level.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Lactones / therapeutic use*
  • Life Style
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Orlistat
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Lactones
  • Orlistat