Background/objectives: It is well established that combining a reduced calorie, low-fat diet with the lipase inhibitor orlistat results in significantly greater weight loss than placebo plus diet. This weight loss is accompanied by changes in adipose tissue (AT) distribution. As 60 mg orlistat is now available as an over-the-counter medication, the primary objective of this study was to determine whether 60 mg orlistat is effective as a weight loss option in a free-living community population with minimal professional input.
Methods: AT and ectopic lipid content were measured using magnetic resonance imaging and (1)H MR spectroscopy, respectively, in 27 subjects following 3 months treatment with orlistat 60 mg and a reduced calorie, low-fat diet.
Results: Significant reductions in intra-abdominal AT (-10.6%, P=0.023), subcutaneous (-11.7% P<0.0001) and pericardial fat (-9.8%, P=0.034) volumes and intrahepatocellular lipids (-43.3%, P=0.0003) were observed. These changes in body fat content and distribution were accompanied by improvements in plasma lipids and decreases in blood pressure and heart rate.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that over-the-counter 60 mg orlistat, in combination with the type of advice a subject could expect to be given when obtaining 60 mg orlistat in a community setting, does indeed result in potentially clinically beneficial changes in body composition and risk factors for metabolic diseases.