Remember back in the spring, when I told you about the “new” diet drug called semaglutide?
As you may recall, research showed that this off-label diabetes medication enabled dramatic weight loss. (Even in people without diabetes.)
But it didn’t take long for Big Pharma to catch on and monopolize these effects.
Insurance companies made semaglutide unavailable to people without diabetes. And a “new” drug called Wegovy was released—which is just semaglutide by another name.
Except this time, Wegovy is FDA approved as a weight loss drug. And by the time you read this, it might even already be on the market.
But is it worth taking? Well, let’s look at the science…
A step in the right direction
Wegovy’s approval was based on the results of four different phase 3 clinical trials—the Semaglutide Treatment Effect in People with Obesity (STEP) program—which featured 4,500 adult subjects.
STEP 1 looked at obese or overweight subjects with a comorbidity like high blood pressure. After 68 weeks, subjects on semaglutide saw a nearly 15 percent weight loss. (Among the placebo group, weight loss was just over two percent.) Not too shabby!
STEP 2 looked at obese or overweight subjects with type 2 diabetes. Again, the difference was stark: The placebo group saw a 3.4 percent weight reduction. With semaglutide, that weight loss was closer to 10 percent!
STEP 3 is where things get interesting: This phase looked at obese or overweight subjects with comorbidities who were also assigned lifestyle interventions—you know, the backbone of all of my health-boosting recommendations—so you can probably guess what happened…
Patients who followed lifestyle changes alone lost nearly six percent of their body weight. But with semaglutide, that weight loss jumped to 16 percent. (So if you ask me, lifestyle intervention is the real winner here, as it benefited both groups. No surprise!)
STEP 4 featured a randomized control group. Patients either took a placebo or semaglutide for 20 weeks. Researchers switched a subset of patients taking the drug to placebo part of the way through the trial.
In the end, the patients on semaglutide continued to lose weight, while the ones who switched to placebo saw their weight loss stop—in fact, the weight actually started to creep back on again.
My first (and best) prescription
These results are about as promising as they get. But as with any drug, this is not a magic bullet. There are some risks and concerns.
For one thing, this drug is an injectable, which would involve giving yourself shots every week. And we don’t really know the side effect profile with long-term use.
Plus, if you have a personal or family history of something called multiple endocrine neoplasia, or MEN syndrome, this drug isn’t for you.
Another risk on the radar is gall bladder disease: There have been some reports of both gall stones and gall bladder inflammation with this drug.
But in the end, I’m still prepared to call Wegovy’s approval good news. Simply because there just hasn’t been a useful drug to help people on their weight loss journey just yet. (And don’t even get me started on the typical diet pills—they’re dangerous and don’t work.)
The hope here, however, is that semaglutide’s effects will be more permanent—especially if patients prioritize lifestyle changes at the same time.
And if you ask me, that’s the real takeaway here: You have to change your poor eating habits if you want your weight loss journey to end successfully. There’s just no getting around it.
My own personal decades-long weight loss journey continues to this day. I wake up and choose to make smart dietary choices—and to move my body. So I didn’t need a study to tell me that the best weight-loss interventions always involve around changing the way you eat and move. (Though I appreciate how beautifully this research illustrated that fact.)
So while Wegovy might help grease the wheels, this is still a battle that you need to fight yourself. Adopt a healthy, balanced diet full of fresh, whole foods (like my A-List Diet, and engage in consistent exercise each day. After all, that will always be my first prescription for weight loss that lasts a lifetime.
And remember, even shedding just a few pounds may be enough to beat back disease, as I reported in the April 2020 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“The life-changing power of losing just a few pounds”). Not yet a subscriber? Click here to become one today!
“FDA Approves ‘Game Changer’ Semaglutide for Weight Loss.” Medscape Medical News, 06/04/2021. (medscape.com/viewarticle/952441)