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Weight-loss drugs make a real difference to patient’s lives</span></b></font>





Weight-loss drugs make a real difference to patient’s lives

62% of Saudi women and 44% of men suffer from obesity


Media Release


 1 April 2001

 One of the Kingdom’s leading specialists has endorsed the use of drugs in weight-loss programmes and stressed their important benefits to patients suffering from obesity.

 In a presentation at the Sheraton Hotel in Dammam, Prof. Hassan El-Shahaly, a consultant in rheumotology and rehabilitation in the Eastern Province, said that while dieting patients normally could achieve a loss of 10% in body weight on their own, those suffering from obesity would sometimes need extra help. “This is where drugs like Xenical really can make a difference, both for the diet plan and for patients’ general well-being and happiness,” he said.

 The presentation, held in front of some of Saudi Arabia’s leading medical specialists and members of the public, highlighted the serious problem that Saudi society faces from obesity: 62% of Saudi women are obese, and 44.3% of men. The reason, said Prof. El-Shahaly, were the usual factors of low-energy expenditure versus a high calorie intake, though, he added, behavioral factors, genetics, and the environment also had an effect.

 “The explosion in the consumption of fast food has also done considerable damage to the Saudi people’s diet,” he said. The presentation included a detailed analysis of the fat content in fast food. “Obese people always underestimate their daily calorie intake,” he said. “The reality is usually very different. For this reason, if patients are struggling to maintain a strictly low-fat regimented diet, a helping hand is sometimes required in the form of drugs.”

Weight-loss drugs make a real difference to patient’s lives

Prof. El-Shahaly highlighted the benefits that drugs like Orlistat, more commonly known as Xenical, had given people trying to lose weight. “While most dieters can lose up to 10% of their own body weight through a simple diet program though quickly regain weight after dieting ceases, Xenical provides a long-term solution,” he said. “Though a low-fat diet must be followed throughout medication.”

 Xenical reduces the rate of fat intake into the body by up to 30%. The drug is taken orally at mealtimes and is non-systemic. This means that the drug is unlike centrally acting drugs that suppress the appetite and have side effects on the central nervous system.

 Clinical trials have also shown that Type 2 diabetes sufferers can lose double the amount of weight when taking Xenical in contrast to those on a placebo treatment. It also has a range of benefits for those suffering from high blood pressure, not least the reduction of weight putting less strain on the heart.

 For people taking Xenical there is also the Xenicare programme, he said. Through a toll-free number (800-2444004) patients can get any questions answered they may have about the drug, obesity, weight-loss, and side effects. Once contacted, a patient’s name is entered into a database for continual support while taking the drug. Patients are contacted by telephone for progress reports and materials are sent on a variety of obesity-related subjects to help them achieve their target weight. The programme is also to help doctors who are prescribing Xenical. The programme may soon extend to patient meetings and obesity support groups.

 Obesity is a worldwide disease that has grown to epidemic proportions over the last two decades, with a 30% increase in sufferers.

- Ends -

Issued on behalf of Roche in Saudi Arabia by Gulf Hill & Knowlton, Jeddah. For more information please contact Michael Craske on Tel: 02 673 8888 Ext. 380; Fax: 02 676 0597; e-mail:

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15 April 2001 06:55:40 PM

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