When it comes to weight loss, there are many pills that promise fast results. But now, researchers believe they’ve found a potential solution that some in scientific communities are calling a “miracle drug” for shedding those extra pounds called semaglutide.
But is it all that it’s cracked up to be? It’s not widely available on the market yet, but here’s what the science says about this peptide-like compound.
What is semaglutide and how does it work?
Semaglutide is currently approved as a drug to help treat type 2 diabetes, but scientists were interested in how the drug’s appetite-suppressing effects could benefit people who are obese and want to lose weight.
Researchers are still parsing together the molecular reactions within semaglutide, but so far they know that it controls the appetite by leaving people feeling fuller despite eating less food. It does this by attaching the the receptors of the GLP1 hormone in the brain, which helps manage our appetites. It also increases insulin secretion and therefore sugar metabolism, which is helpful both in terms of weight management and preventing diabetic symptoms.
How much weight can people lose using semaglutide?
According to a new article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at Northwestern University conducted a 68-week medical trial with over 1,900 participants in 16 different countries who injected themselves weekly with either a semaglutide solution or a placebo. By the end of the trial, those who’d received the drug lost close to 15 percent of their body weight on average, which translated to roughly 33 pounds. In contrast, those with the placebo lost an average of roughly 2.4 percent of their body weight.
Moreover, roughly a third of participants who received the drug lost 20 percent of their body weight or more, and in many cases, participants who had signs of pre-diabetes and diabetes saw their symptoms reduced.
That said, there are still many unknowns that researchers need to sort out before semaglutide is available to a wider swath of the population. They’re still figuring out if semaglutide works best by itself or in tandem with a healthy diet and solid exercise regimen, what the long-term effects are from taking it, and the best way to administer it (such as intravenously or orally).
That said, it shows a lot of promise, and it won’t be surprising if we keep hearing more and more about it in the coming months and years.