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Obese women more likely to be prescribed orlistat than men

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Obese females – in particular young females – are more likely to be prescribed anti-obesity medication than a male of the same BMI, suggests a recent UK study.

The study investigated factors associated with the prescription of anti-obesity medication - using a population primary care prescribing database, comprising 1.5 million people over the age of 16 in Northern Ireland, during 2009/10.

The results showed that - of the 25% of the population who were obese -  1.3% received anti-obesity medication. But there was a significant gender difference between prescribing rates - with 2.1% of females prescribed an obesity drug compared to just 0.6% of males.

At the start of the study 80% of the prescriptiuons were for orlistat- rising to 99% after the withdrawal of sibutramine. 

The researchers noted that there is evidence of ‘relative under-prescribing in males compared to females despite a similar prevalence of obesity’ and that ‘younger females are more likely to be prescribed anti-obesity medication, suggesting an element of patient demand’. The researchers advise that ‘further study is needed to understand the factors responsible for the variation in prescribing between GP practices’. 

Read more here. 

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