BACKGROUND: Obesity is a major public health issue. This review updates the evidence on the effectiveness of behavioural and pharmacologic treatments for overweight and obesity in adults.
METHODS: We updated the search conducted in a previous review. Randomized trials of primary-care-relevant behavioural (diet, exercise and lifestyle) and pharmacologic (orlistat and metformin) with or without behavioural treatments in overweight and obese adults were included if 12-month, postbaseline data were provided for weight outcomes. Studies reporting harms were included regardless of design. Data were extracted and pooled wherever possible for 5 weight outcomes, 6 secondary health outcomes and 4 adverse events categories.
RESULTS: We identified 68 studies, most consisted of short-term (= 12 mo) treatments using diet (n = 8), exercise (n = 4), diet and exercise (n = 10), lifestyle (n = 19), orlistat (n = 25) or metformin (n = 4). Compared with the control groups, intervention participants had a greater weight loss of -3.02 kg (95% confidence interval [CI] -3.52 to -2.52), a greater reduction in waist circumference of -2.78 cm (95% CI -3.34 to -2.22) and a greater reduction in body mass index of -1.11 kg/m2 (95% CI -1.39 to -0.84). The relative risk for loss of = 5% body weight was 1.77 (95% CI 1.58–1.99, [number needed to treat 5, 95% CI 4–7]), and the relative risk for loss of = 10% body weight was 1.91 (95% CI 1.69–2.16, [number needed to treat 9, 95% CI 7–12]). Incidence of type 2 diabetes was lower among pre-diabetic intervention participants (relative risk 0.62 [95% CI 0.50–0.77], number needed to treat 17 [95% CI 13–29]). With prevalence rates for type 2 diabetes on the rise, weight loss coupled with a reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes could potentially have a significant benefit on population health and a possible reduction in need for drug treatments for glycemic control.
INTERPRETATION: There is moderate quality evidence that behavioural and pharmacologic plus behvioural, treatments for overweight and obesity in adults lead to clinically important reductions in weight and incidence of type 2 diabetes in pre-diabetic populations.