Help for obesity may come in a pill after all, according to a new study involving a diabetes treatment that led to notable weight loss for the average participant.
“A medical treatment for obesity that leads to 10% weight loss in the majority and 20% weight loss in over a third of participants. This is the start of a new era,” said Rachel Batterham, one of the researchers involved in the study and a professor of obesity, diabetes and endocrinology and head of the Centre for Obesity Research at UCL and the UCLH Centre for Weight Management, on Twitter TWTR, +0.00%.
A total of 1,961 adults from North America, South America, Asia, and Europe took part in the 68-week trial during 2018 involving the drug semaglutide, which is an anti-diabetic medication used for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, according to the study that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday,
The individuals received a shot of semaglutide under the skin or a placebo weekly, along with counseling sessions to adhere to a reduced-calorie diet and increased exercise. Semaglutide is sold under the names Ozempic and Rybelsus by Danish drug company Novo Nordisk NVO, +3.47%.
“Participants who received semaglutide were more likely to lose 5% or more, 10% or more, 15% or more, and 20% or more of baseline body weight at week 68 than those who received placebo,” the study said.
Trial participants were 18 years and older, with one or more previous dietary attempts to lose weight and with a body-mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, or a BMI of 27 with one or more weight-related conditions, treated or untreated. A normal BMI tends to fall in the 18.5 to 24.9 range.
“Our trial showed that among adults with overweight or obesity (without diabetes), once-weekly subcutaneous semaglutide plus lifestyle intervention was associated with substantial, sustained, clinically relevant mean weight loss of 14.9%, with 86% of participants attaining at least 5% weight loss,” said the study’s researchers.
Novo Nordisk has submitted semaglutide as a weight-management treatment for regulatory approval to the Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency.