New drug dubbed a game-changer for weight loss

Semaglutide, made by Novo Nordisk and currently marketed as a treatment option for type 2 diabetes, has been found to achieve sustained, clinically significant weight reduction according to new research published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

In the double-blind clinical trial, researchers looked at whether a once-weekly 2.4mg dose of semaglutide could result in weight loss when given as an adjunct to lifestyle intervention.

1961 adults with a body mass index of 30 plus, who did not have diabetes were enrolled in the study and randomly assigned to 68 weeks of treatment with once-weekly subcutaneous semaglutide or placebo, plus lifestyle intervention.

Researchers were looking to see if the pharmacologic option could result in a weight reduction of at least 5%.

After 68 weeks, the researchers found that the average change in body weight from baseline was -14.9% in the semaglutide group versus the placebo group (-2.4%).

Those in the treatment group lost 15.3kg after 68 weeks compared to 2.6kg weight loss in the placebo group.

Notably, participants who received the semaglutide treatment also had greater improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors and a greater increase in physical functioning.

‘A game-changer’

Speaking to the BBC, Professor Rachel Batterham from University College London (UCL) Division of Medicine and one of the UK researchers in this study says that this potential new therapy “is a game-changer in the amount of weight loss it causes”.

“I have spent the last 20 years doing obesity research, up until now we’ve not had an effective treatment for obesity apart from bariatric surgery.”

She adds that this is timely because reducing weight if overweight/obese would not only reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes but also of severe Covid-19.

While according to the BBC, “semaglutide is being submitted to drugs regulators so cannot be routinely prescribed”, it’s likely to be initially used in specialist weight loss clinics under the guidance of a medical professional.

To read the study, visit: nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2032183.

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