Updated: May 18, 2021
You may have seen that a study came out this week on a new weight loss medication which can help people lose more than 10% off their body weight. Our City Cieitians resident obesity expert Dr Adrian Brown is here to break down what this study means.
I've worked in obesity management for over 15 years, and we have all been waiting for the next big obesity treatment to land. There have been lots of false starts and a few disappointments but this one is truly exciting. So what is all the fuss about?
The reason we are all so excited is the amount of weight loss seen in participants using the once weekly semaglutide injection: People lost on average 14.9% of their body weight, and an incredible third of people lost more than 20% of their body weight over 68 weeks. This amount of weight loss is typically only seen following bariatric surgery like a bypass, so to achieve this with a medication is really incredible. What about other benefits? Well, there were significant reductions in waist circumference, blood pressure and improved physical function in the semaglutide group compared to the control group. Interestingly there was no difference between groups in blood glucose measures, though it should be noted that none of the participants had type 2 diabetes.Nevertheless, with weight loss being the primary driver of type 2 diabetes remission semaglutide may offer another option for people aiming to achieve remission of their diabetes. Check out our other resources on remission of type 2 diabetes here. It’s important to note that both groups including the one that received the drug and the control group took part in an intensive lifestyle intervention, which may have helped achieved the outstanding weight loss. However, the fact that the large weight losses were only seen in the semaglutide group indicate that it was actually the drug which is making the big difference. Finally, we need to be aware that there were side effects including gut issues such as nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and constipation, which happened in both groups and were generally transient and moderate in severity. How does this change what we do at City Dietitians? The best care for any individual is… well, individual! So while some patients can manage their particular condition with diet alone, others may get the best results when diet works hand in hand with medications. We are currently not sure when this drug will be licensed for general use but are hopefully that it won't be too long before patients can start to benefit with our clinics.