Diabetes drug lead to significant weight loss in people with obesity: study

A diabetes drug taken once a week lead to dramatic weight loss in people who have obesity, according to a recently published study in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study authors said that participants in the 72-week trial lost up to 20% of their body weight. 

“The findings indicate tirzepatide may be a potential therapeutic option for individuals living with obesity, with participants losing between 16% and 22.5% of their starting weight”, the authors said in the study. 

The drug, tirzepatide, is a novel drug that was recently approved by the Food & Drug Administration to help treat type 2 diabetes through a once-weekly injection. The drug, works on two hormones that help control blood sugar and send fullness signals to the brainthe authors explained in the studyThe investigators decided to look at the effect of the diabetes drug on obesity and presented the findings of the phase 3 trial at a symposium at the 82nd Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association® (ADA) in New Orleans, LA. 

The 72-week phase 3 double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, involved over 2500 participants who were considered obese and did not have diabetes.  

The team of researchers divided the participants into four groups. Three of the groups were given 5mg, 10mg or 15mg of tirzepatide to be self-administered once a week for 72 weeks, while the fourth group was given a self-administered placebo injection. All four groups were given counseling sessions regarding lifestyle habits and low-calorie meals. They also performed at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week.

The investigators found that 89% of participants, who took the 5 mg dose of the drug and 96% of those who took 10 mg and 15 mg weekly doses of the drug, achieved at least 5% body weight reductions compared to 28% of those in the placebo group. 

According to the report, participants who took the 5 mg dose of tirzepatide lost an average of 35 pounds, and the 10 mg group achieved an average loss of 49 pounds. The participants who took the 15 mg injection saw an average 52-pound weight loss over the 72-week course of the study. Those in the placebo group achieved a 5 lb. average of weight loss, according to the study.

“Obesity should be treated like any other chronic disease – with effective and safe approaches that target underlying disease mechanisms, and these results underscore that tirzepatide may be doing just that,” lead researcher Ania Jastreboff, MD, PhD, an associate professor Yale University School of Medicine, and director of Weight Management and Obesity Prevention at the Yale Stress Center told one media outlet. 

“These results are an important step forward in potentially expanding effective therapeutic options for people with obesity. Notably, about 9 out of 10 individuals with obesity lost weight while taking tirzepatide,” Jastreboff, who is also the co-director of the Yale Center for Weight Management in Connecticut said in the media report.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), the prevalence of obesity in the United States was nearly 42% in 2017 through March 2020. The CDC stated that obesity related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. 

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