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Behavior Therapy and Pharmacotherapy for Obesity

Linda Wilcoxon Craighead, PhD; Albert J. Stunkard, MD; Richard M. O'Brien, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(7):763-768. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1981.01780320043003.
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• The effects of behavior therapy, pharmacotherapy, and their combination were compared in 120 women during six months of treatment of obesity and one year after treatment. Patients who received fenfluramine hydrochloride alone lost 14.5 kg, and those who had combined pharmacotherapy and behavior therapy lost 15.3 kg; both losses were significantly greater than that of those who had behavior therapy alone (10.9 kg). A waiting-list control group gained 1.3 kg. One-year follow-up of all living patients who completed treatment showed a striking reversal in the relative efficacy of the treatments. Behavior-therapy patients regained significantly less than pharmacotherapy and combined-treatment patients. Accordingly, at follow-up, these groups did not differ significantly in weight loss. Thus, pharmacotherapy produced more rapid regaining of weight after treatment. Furthermore, adding pharmacotherapy to behavior therapy apparently compromised the long-term effects of the latter treatment.

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