America has a new weapon in the fight against obesity. The FDA on Friday approved a new weight-loss drug, Wegovy, for people who are obese or overweight and have at least one weight-related medical problem.
“We have to think of obesity as hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes,” said Dr. Domenica Rubino, director of the Washington Center for Weight Management and Research.
Rubino said that people who take obesity medications lose an average of 7-9% of their body weight. “People who need 10%, 15%, 20% weight loss, we need tools,” she said.
In a 16-month study, patients taking Wegovy lost an average of 17% of their body weight. Side effects included diarrhea and nausea, which usually resolved when the dose was slowly increased. Patients who stopped taking the drug recovered more than half of their weight loss.
Trial participant Lisa Robillard lost 63 pounds. She said she had tried fad diets or any other method that she thought would help her lose weight before.
“I was not hungry between meals, which was just unheard of for me. I was fuller faster and the cravings that I had disappeared,” she said of the new drug. .
Wegovy is similar to the diabetes drug Ozempic, which is already prescribed off-label for weight loss. Both drugs mimic a natural hormone that helps regulate appetite. Wegovy is approved for long term use and recommended to be combined with diet and exercise.
“These hormones actually affect signals in the brain,” Rubino said. “It really doesn’t come down to willpower. It’s much more complicated. This physiology is very strong and it’s not your fault.”