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Study: Topiramate helps dieters 'to maintain weight loss'

30 Nov 2004

The anti-epileptic drug topiramate can help dieters lose weight, according to research published in the journal Obesity Research.

Researchers, led by Arne Astrup from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Frederiksberg, Denmark, put 700 obese people on a low-calorie diet for eight weeks. The participants that had lost more than eight per cent of their weight underwent ‘lifestyle modification' counselling to encourage healthy eating habits, and were then given topiramate or a placebo.

Of those taking topiramate (either 96 or 192 milligrams per day), they lost an average of 16 per cent of their weight by the 44th week of the research whilst those who were taking the placebo lost only an average of around nine per cent.

Two major side-effects were noted by researchers. Paraesthesia (a tingling, "pins-and-needles" sensation) occurred in 46 per cent of people taking the lower dose of the drug and 73 per cent of those taking the higher dose.

Eighteen per cent of dieters taking higher doses of the drug reported memory problems, compared with 14 per cent of those taking the lower dose and six per cent of those taking placebo. Memory problems are a known side-effect of topiramate.

The study ended early because Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceuticals, who produce Topamax, a branded version of topiramate, is developing a time-release version of the drug that it hopes will minimise side-effects.