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Division of Endocrinology Department of Internal Medicine University Hospital Center Zagreb, Croatia
Obesity is a chronic disease, and it requires chronic therapy. Hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are leading causes of mortality in the modern world. All of them are strongly linked to obesity. While treating obesity, those conditions are also managed. Obese patients should always be treated through lifestyle interventions, though the results of such interventions are modest. Pharmacotherapy is a second step in the treatment of obesity, approved only when weight loss targets were not reached through lifestyle intervention. During the history of antiobesity drugs, many of them were withdrawn because of their side effects. Various guidelines recommend prescribing drug therapy for obesity through consideration of the potential benefits and limitations. Orlistat deactivates intestinal lipase and inhibits intestinal fat lipolysis. It is actually the only drug on the European market approved for the treatment of obesity. Orlistat therapy reduces weight to a modest extent, but it reduces the incidence of diabetes beyond the result achieved with lifestyle changes. Recently, some effective antiobesity drugs like sibutramine and rimonabant have been removed from the market due to their side effects. The new combination of topimarate and fentermine is approved in the US but not in Europe. The cost effectiveness of long-term pharmacotherapy of obesity is still an unresolved question.