The Weight Loss Drug Craze – Do They Actually Work?

Weight loss drugs have become a hot topic over the past year. Today, pharmaceutical companies Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly compete to release FDA-approved products that can help people lose up to double-digit percentages of their body weight. These GLP-1-based drugs were initially developed to treat type 2 diabetes as GLP-1s can regulate blood sugar. However, researchers also observed significant weight loss among its users, prompting pharmaceutical companies to study the medications as possible weight loss treatments.

Today, experts believe we will soon see even more weight loss drugs available on the market, from injectable therapy to tablets that are taken orally. At the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association, Eli Lilly announced results from studies of three weight loss drugs: tirzepatide, orforglipron, and retatrutide. As more research is carried out and medications acquire FDA approval, we may soon see newer weight-reduction drugs for obesity treatment.

In our previous “5 Things to Do if You are Unhappy with Your Life” post, we highlighted the importance of taking the initiative to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as exercising, if you aren’t happy with the way you look. While weight loss differs depending on a person’s current health and lifestyle conditions, turning to trending weight loss drugs can be tempting. Below, we’ll take a closer look at existing weight loss drugs today, whether or not they are effective, and what we can expect in the future:

Weight loss drugs

With so much talk about miracle weight loss drugs and their efficacy, it can be confusing to tell them apart. Saxenda, Wegovy, and Mounjaro share the same classification and can help with weight loss. However, there are distinct differences between Saxenda vs Wegovy. For one, Wegovy, or semaglutide, is a newer form of weight loss drug, approved by the FDA for obesity treatment in 2021. You may be familiar with its lower-dose form, Ozempic, which is only FDA-approved for treating type 2 diabetes.

On the other hand, Saxenda, or liraglutide, was the first GLP-1 agonist approved by the FDA for obesity treatment back in 2014. Another FDA-approved version of liraglutide is Victoza, which is only approved for type 2 diabetes treatment.

As GLP-1 agonists, Wegovy and Saxenda impact the GLP-1 receptors in your body, stimulating them to make you feel fuller and less hungry for longer periods. GLP-1 agonists are also known to help minimize thoughts of food, reduce cravings, and reduce how many calories you eat.

Are weight loss drugs effective?

The quick answer is: Yes. Wegovy results in a mean weight loss of 14.9% or around 35 lbs sustained at 68 weeks. Researchers established that semaglutides like Wegovy may be superior in reducing body weight compared with other antidiabetic medications, supported by relatively well-established clinical trials. Some of these clinical trials included tests for weight reduction in patients with obesity and without diabetes.

One of the drugs currently in development from pharma company Eli Lilly, tirzepatide, was recently studied in a research published in the International Journal of Obesity. Results indicate that the drug can lead to superior weight loss reduction compared with other glucose-lowering agents and has a safety profile similar to other weight loss drugs. Primary outcomes resulted in a percentage change in body weight from baseline, while secondary outcomes included changes in body weight, waist circumference, lipid profile, and blood pressure.

Some of the adverse side effects noted in these clinical trials and studies include diarrhea and nausea, which are common side effects across different available weight loss drugs and, while prevalent, aren’t considered severe or life-threatening.

The future of weight loss drugs

While we can expect newer and more effective weight loss drugs in the future, they may also prove beneficial for other reasons. Recently, researchers have been interested in other uses for these weight loss drugs. In the past months, scientists ran trials on FDA-approved medication such as Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus and its use in fighting addiction, according to Although the FDA has approved several addiction drugs over the years, these medicines only work for a small percentage of people who try them. Suppose semaglutides deliver positive results in treating addiction. In that case, it will be interesting to see if using and manufacturing GLP-1 analogs for diabetes and weight loss can be extended for other purposes.

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