Obesity: A Diabetes Drug Makes Pounds Tumble

Around a quarter of adults in Germany are morbidly overweight (body mass index over 30). The active ingredient semaglutide, which is administered by injection, now gives hope to those affected by obesity.

The drug semaglutide, originally developed for diabetics, also ensures weight loss in non-diabetics. Doctors are already talking about a giant step – a so-called game-changer. However, the side effects of semaglutide are not insignificant and the health insurance companies do not yet cover the costs of the therapy. The drug is currently being approved – for therapy against obesity.

Drug Semaglutid provides a feeling of satiety

The diabetic semaglutide belongs to the group of glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists (GLP-1 agonists). The drug lowers blood sugar levels and reduces cardiovascular risk, as well as the risk of nerve damage. The active ingredient mimics one of the body’s own messengers, the hormone GLP-1. This normally comes from the gastrointestinal tract and reports satiety to the brain. It also slows down gastric emptying.

A recent study on Semaglutid has shown that even overweight people without diabetes lose weight with the drug – an average of 15 kilos in 68 weeks. However, the test subjects received the active ingredient weekly in almost twice the dose of diabetics (diabetics 1.4 mg, overweight 2.4 mg). Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Although these symptoms often decrease over time, about 50 percent of those treated are affected. Gallstones are also more common.

Lifelong therapy – no reimbursement

According to current knowledge, semaglutide must be administered for life. Experience shows that 50 percent of those affected gain weight again after stopping the drug. The other half manages to keep the weight off with exercise and a change in diet. The costs for the therapy – several hundred euros per month – have to be borne by yourself.

In addition, long-term data are still lacking. What side effects occur when those affected take the drug for years, maybe even decades is not known. And regular spraying is also a hurdle. However, the manufacturer is already making tablets. Oral semaglutide has already been approved in the United States.

Psyche plays an important role in obesity

In most cases, obesity problems cannot be “sprayed away”. For example, the psyche often plays an important role in this chronic disease. However, GLP-1 agonists could be a further building block in obesity therapy – for example for people who suffer from joint and cardiovascular diseases because they are overweight and who have already tried in vain to lose weight using conventional methods.

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