Story by: Sara Thompson on March 2, 2022
Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Wegovy (semaglutide) for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or who are overweight and have at least one weight-related condition (such as diabetes or hypertension). This is the first weight loss drug approval from the FDA since 2014.
Wegovy is injected once a week under the skin, with the dosage increasing every four weeks until it reaches 2.4 milligrams per week. Participants in a study had Wegovy injections for 68 weeks and lost an average of 15% to 18% of their body weight. The average for weight loss drugs already on the market is 7% to 9%.
“No other weight loss drugs have been able to achieve these results, which are comparable to bariatric surgery,” said Kelley M. McIntyre, M.D., an internal medicine physician and medical weight management specialist at Norton Weight Management Services.
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Semaglutide is similar to a hormone naturally occurring in the body that regulates your appetite. It also increases insulin release, which is why the drug has been used in lower doses to treat diabetes. But higher doses act on the brain to suppress appetite. Patients on Wegovy felt full sooner when eating and therefore lost weight as their calorie intake decreased.
“One of the benefits of Wegovy would be that it is effective for a wide variety of patients,” Dr. McIntyre said. “It can be used for adults who are not pregnant.”
Although this medication shows promising results, Dr. McIntyre cautioned patients not to rely on the drug alone to do all the work of losing weight.
“Wegovy is a great tool in a weight loss toolbox, but you have to eat a lower-calorie diet and get regular exercise to really maximize the benefits of the drug,” Dr. McIntyre said.
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