Semaglutide, a drug normally used to treat type 2 diabetes promises to make a huge impact in the fight against obesity and the diseases associated with it.
A 15 month study involving over 2000 participants resulted in an average weight loss of 15kg for those taking the appetite suppressing drug.
Speaking to the BBC, Jan, one of the participants in the trial, lost 28kg, which was over a fifth of her body weight. “The drug changed my life and completely altered my approach to food,” she said.
She said dieting had made her “miserable” but taking the drug was completely different as she was less hungry.
However, that the trial has ended for Jan, her appetite has returned to normal and she is gaining weight. She said: “It felt effortless losing weight while on the trial, but now it has gone back to feeling like a constant battle with food.”
Recently approved by the FDA and European Medicines Agency, semaglutide is normally used to treat type 2 diabetes as an adjunct to diet and exercise, but the trial sought to establish its use in higher doses as an appetite suppressant. One group was given a weekly semaglutide injection while the other received a placebo, and dietary and lifestyle guidance was given to both groups with the aim of losing weight.
The drug mimics GLP-1, a hormone that is released after a meal. The trial participants receiving semaglutide lost an average of 15kg compared to 2.6kg for placebo, with 32% of participants receiving semaglutide losing a fifth of their body weight compared to 2% for placebo.
Side effects included nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and constipation.
Prof Sir Stephen O’Rahilly, from the University of Cambridge, said: “The amount of weight loss achieved is greater than that seen with any licensed anti-obesity drug.
“This is the start of a new era for obesity drug development with the future direction being to achieve levels of weight loss comparable to semaglutide, while having fewer side-effects.”
Dr Duane Mellor, a dietician and from Aston Medical School, said: “It is useful to have a potential option to help people lose weight, however we need to acknowledge that weight loss will still need lifestyle change, and that any medication or change in lifestyle can bring potential risks and side-effects.
“So, it is always wise to speak to a health professional before trying to lose weight.”
Source: BBC News