If you're struggling to lose weight, help may be coming in an unexpected form: An insulin-regulating drug that contains a compound that mimics a hunger-regulating hormone has the unintended side effect of weight loss, according to a new study.
Ozempic, an injectable drug approved as a once-weekly supplement to diet and exercise for improving glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes, contains the compound semaglutide. In a study presented at the Endocrine Society's 100th annual meeting, researchers found that the semaglutide, — which has a chemical structure similar to the appetite-regulating hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) — caused adults who were obese but did not have diabetes to lose weight.
Lead author Patrick M. O'Neil, MD, a professor at Medical University of South Carolina, and his colleagues studied 957 patients, 35 percent of whom were men. Study participants had a BMI of at least 30 — classified as obese by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — but did not have diabetes. O'Neil and company divided participants into seven different groups: Five groups received doses of semaglutide randing from 0.05 to 0.4 milligrams, one group received a placebo, and another group received 3 mg. of liraglutide, another diabetes drug. All groups were given diet and exercise counseling monthly.
What researchers found after a year was that all groups receiving semaglutide experienced significant weight loss compared to the placebo group. The higher the semaglutide dose, the greater the participants' average weight loss. In the semaglutide groups, those patients receiving 0.05 milligram lost an average of 6 percent of their body weight; the 0.1-milligram group lost an average of 8.6 percent; the 0.3-milligram group lost an average of 11.2 percent; and the 0.4-milligram group lost an average of 13.8 percent. Those receiving liraglutide dropped an average of 7.8 percent of their body weight. In contrast, participants in the placebo group lost an average of only 2.3 percent of their body weight.
Results also showed that 65 percent of participants in the group that received 0.4 milligrams of semaglutide lost at least 10 percent of their body weight. This was the case for only 34 percent of participants in the liraglutide group, and 10 percent of those in the placebo group.
O'Neil concludes that further research needs to be conducted regarding the relationship between semaglutide and weight loss. And research aside, it's important to note that rather than taking medications you don't need (in this case, participants who did not have diabetes were taking drugs to treat diabetes), diet and exercise are still the best way to lose weight.
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