Obesity has become a global health challenge and is linked to many diseases such as diabetes, stroke, and heart issues. One novel treatment option has been the development of Wegovy. Here are the findings of the recent clinical trial and insights into how Wegovy works.
Semaglutide (Wegovy) can produce a significantly greater amount of weight loss compared to a placebo.
Semaglutide is effective for weight loss when taken once a week.
The most common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation, but semaglutide can be associated with severe side effects such as pancreatitis and gallstones.
The incorporation of lifestyle modifications is necessary to achieve the weight loss goals seen in these clinical trials.
It is important to talk with your doctor about all your options and to see if semaglutide may be right for you.
What is semaglutide (Wegovy)?
Semaglutide belongs to the class of medications known as glucagon-like peptide-1 analogs. These medications have been used in the treatment of diabetes, but have shown promise in weight loss.
How does it help with weight loss?
Semaglutide is believed to reduce gastric emptying making you feel fuller sooner. Additionally, at the doses used for weight loss, it is thought to work on centers in the brain to suppress appetite. Thus, helping you to lose weight.
Findings of the recent clinical trials
There have been two clinical trials recently completed that evaluated the weight loss potential of semaglutide (Wegovy) in obese patients without diabetes. In these studies, once-weekly semaglutide was administered by subcutaneous injection using a dose of 2.4 mg. Additionally, lifestyle interventions and behavioral therapy were used to help promote weight loss.
In the study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, 1,961 participants were selected to either receive semaglutide or a placebo. The semaglutide group lost nearly 15% of their body weight (i.e.. 30 pounds of weight loss in a 200-pound person) over the 68-week trial compared to the 2.4% weight reduction in the placebo group.
In a smaller study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, semaglutide was shown to cause a 16% reduction in weight compared to 5.7% in the placebo group. Similarly, this trial was conducted over a 68-week period.
Thus, the percentage of weight loss was significantly greater when semaglutide was used.
Side effects of semaglutide
In both clinical trials, the percentage of patients experiencing side effects was similar between semaglutide and placebo. The most common complaint of patients taking semaglutide was gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. All of which resolved with the discontinuation of semaglutide.
In both studies, less than 10% of semaglutide-treated patients experienced serious side effects. The most common of these side effects were acute pancreatitis and gallstones.
Additional benefits of semaglutide
Semaglutide was found to have additional benefits compared to a placebo in these clinical trials. These benefits included:
Summary of the clinical trial findings
The overall effects of semaglutide are very promising for the treatment of a very difficult condition such as obesity. Up to a third of patients lost more than 20% of their body weight which is comparable to some surgical options for weight loss.
Lifestyle reductions such as an increase in physical activity and dieting are essential in achieving your weight loss goals. However, semaglutide has been shown to produce greater weight loss compared to lifestyle modifications alone.
In addition, semaglutide can produce these results with only a once-a-week dose giving it an advantage over other weight loss options. However, like all medications, it is not without side effects, and in some instances, these can be severe. Therefore, it is important to discuss your options with your doctor to determine if semaglutide is right for you.
Overall, semaglutide has shown some very promising results regarding weight loss and diabetes care. However, these clinical trials were of short duration and it is unknown if these weight losses can be sustained. But in conjunction with lifestyle modifications, semaglutide appears to be effective in helping one achieve significant weight loss.
- The New England Journal of Medicine. Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity.
- Journal of the American Medical Association Effect of Subcutaneous Semaglutide vs Placebo as an Adjunct to Intensive Behavioral Therapy on Body Weight in Adults With Overweight or Obesity. The STEP 3 Randomized Clinical Trial.