Obesity has become a major public health crisis, linked to multiple diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Its metabolic implications were evident during the coronavirus pandemic, placing people with obesity at greater risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
Obesity to diabetes
A new weight-loss treatment is being heralded by some health experts as “groundbreaking,” and a potential “game-changer” in the growing epidemic of obesity.
Semaglutide, an injectable drug made by the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, was approved Friday by the Food and Drug Administration, for patients struggling with chronic obesity.
“We don’t use those terms lightly,” Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine professor Dr. Robert F. Kushner, an obesity medicine specialist and trial investigator for the drug, told ABC News. “I’ve been involved in the field for 40 years. The reason we think that way, it results in the amount of weight loss of an average of 15% or more, which we have not seen before.”
Currently, 42.4% of all adults in the U.S. suffer from obesity, defined as having a body mass index at or above 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Today’s approval offers adults with obesity or overweight a beneficial new treatment option to incorporate into a weight management program,” John Sharretts, deputy director of the Division of Diabetes, Lipid Disorders, and Obesity in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said in a statement.
Semaglutide was approved in 2019 by the FDA to treat Type 2 diabetes, sold under the brand name Ozempic, albeit at a lower dose. At the higher dose of 2.4 mg, the drug acts on centers in the brain to reduce appetite, leading to potentially significant weight loss when combined with increased physical activity, and counseling sessions with nutritionists to maintain a reduced-calorie diet.
Obesity to diabetes and BMI
The drug targets patients with a BMI over 30, or a BMI over 27 with at least one weight-related comorbidity.
Ozempic® is an injectable, noninsulin medicine used:
- Along with staying active and eating healthy, to improve blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes.
- To reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke, or death in adults with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease.
- A once-weekly medicine for adults with type 2 diabetes used to improve blood sugar, along with diet and exercise, and reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke, or death in adults with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease.
While Ozempic® Is Not for Weight Loss, You May Also Lose Some Weight
Ozempic® is not a weight-loss drug. It is a medicine for adults with type 2 diabetes that, along with staying active and eating healthy, may improve blood sugar.
- People who weighed an average of 198 pounds and took the 0.5 mg dose of Ozempic®, on average, lost 9 pounds.
- People who weighed an average of 197 pounds and took the 100 mg dose of the leading branded pill, on average, lost 4 pounds.
The research - obesity to diabetes
For 68 weeks, participants injected themselves weekly with either semaglutide or a placebo. On average, over half of those who received the drug itself lost nearly 15% of their body weight, and over a third achieved a weight loss of at least 20% of their weight.