For many, the best option for weight loss may be the new drugs for diabetes treatment.
For people struggling with weight loss, new prescription drug alternatives may provide a long-sought solution and offer other important health benefits as well. New drugs for type 2 diabetes can help people lose over 20% of their total body weight. That is much more than accomplished by other drug treatments for obesity. According to a Harvard Medical School report (March 2023), in addition to producing weight loss results, semaglutide (brand name Rybelsus), and other new diabetes drugs, can improve heart health.
Heart Health Benefits
The revolutionary drug class is known as incretin mimetics. These diabetes treatments also reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, leading to additional major health benefits. Per the Harvard report, a weekly self-injection can result in substantial weight loss, and without significant side effects. The report further emphasizes that cardiologists are increasingly understanding the need to treat obesity as a method of heart disease treatment.
The incretin mimetic diabetes treatment drugs work better than alternatives to aid weight loss by mimicking natural hormones in the gut. Per the report, research indicates that semaglutide and others also reduce the risk of severe cardiovascular issues associated with heart attack and stroke in people dealing with diabetes and obesity.
Accessibility of the New Weight Loss Aids
As you might expect, there is a strong demand for these more effective new diabetes / weight loss drugs. Semaglutide has been the most highly sought for its comparative weight loss benefits. So, there have been shortages of this and other incretin mimetics drugs. In addition to the lack of availability, the drugs are also expensive, at $1,000 to $1,500 monthly. Adding to the difficulty in obtaining the drugs, Medicare does not cover these treatments for weight loss. However, some private health insurance companies now cover them.
Anti-Obesity and Diabetes Drugs
What are incretin mimetics? A particular lizard was discovered to maintain consistent levels of blood sugar even during long periods without eating. This unusual property was the inspiration for a class of drugs called incretin mimetics. These have evolved to greater effectiveness by mimicking the incretin GLP-1.
The drug class includes semaglutide under the brand name Ozempic. Semaglutide is also called Rybelsus, which is available in pill form. Other injectable diabetes treatments in this category include dulaglutide, known by its brand name Trulicity, liraglutide, known as Victoza. Semaglutide, under the name-brand Wegovy, has been further approved for use as a weight loss treatment. Another diabetes drug approved for this additional use is liraglutide, known as Saxenda. Tirzepatide, under the brand name Mounjaro, is expected to be reviewed for approval as an obesity treatment this year (2023).
Semaglutide and Other Diabetes Drugs for Weight Loss
Anti-obesity drugs typically help people lose around 5% – 8% of body weight. However, as explained, the new generation of incretin mimetics, including semaglutide, a strong overall performer in the class, are associated with much more significant weight loss results, as high as 20%. Semaglutide has been of special interest for its weight loss benefits. Per the Harvard report, extensive semaglutide research is underway to determine whether this drug reduces heart health risks in non-diabetic obese people.
Who Can Use These Weight Loss Drugs?
Diabetics who are significantly overweight and have a high risk of heart disease are good candidates for treatment with semaglutide. For non-diabetics seeking a weight loss solution, the criteria for a prescription of semaglutide is the same as for other obesity treatments — a high body mass index (27 or above) and high blood pressure or another health problem related to obesity.
Side Effects and Discontinuing Use of These Drugs
The side effects of these weight loss drugs may include nausea, constipation, and or diarrhea, but do not usually persist longer than about a week if dosages are increased gradually.
Stopping the use of the drug is likely to stop the weight loss benefits and lead to regaining the weight. As with any preventive medication, the prior health issue typically resumes when the treatment to control it is discontinued.
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