Obesity and diabetes are two of the biggest health problems that society is facing today. They affect hundreds upon thousands of people and can easily lead to other complications such as heart disease, and eventually even death. In the United States alone, over two thirds of the adult population is either overweight or obese.
But researchers have found a new drug, knows as “liraglutide” and branded as “Saxenda”, that can help people manage diabetes, as well as enable them to lose weigh and to keep it off and stay in shape.
Liraglutide comes in the form of an injection and was already approved by the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) back in December. However, the FDA also required that researchers conduct further tests so as to make sure that the weight loss drug won’t negatively affect those suffering from diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
For the new study, published earlier this week, on Wednesday (July 1, 2015), in the New England Journal of Medicine, experts from several universities and medical centers looked at 3.700 people (either obese or overweight) living in six (6) different continents and concluded that the drug leads to both weigh loss as well as good levels of blood sugar. Their findings serve to reinforce the ones in previous trials.
Dr. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, lead author and professor of medicine over at Columbia University’s Medical Center (New York), gave a statement saying that the overall effects that the drug had were very good and at least comparable to those of other drugs on the market, if not better.
He went on to explain that liraglutide “can lower weight, improve cardiovascular risk factors and improve quality of life”, and on top of everything it is also able to reduce the progression of type 2 diabetes for prediabetics.
Researchers gave the 3.700 subjects diets low on calories and greatly increased their daily exercises. They then split them in two (2) groups fir the final adjustment – half of them received Saxenda, and the other half received a placebo.
During the 56 weeks that the study stretched over, the subjects who were given Saxenda lost an average of 18.5 pounds, while the subjects who were given the placebo only lost an average of 6 pounds.
Out of subjects who were injected with Saxenda, 63 percent (63%) of them lost 5 percent (5%) or more of the body weigh they had when starting the study, and one third of them lost 10 percent (10%) or more of the body weigh they had when starting the study.
Compared to them, only 27 percent (27%) of those who were injected with the placebo managed to lose 5 percent (5%) or more of the body weigh they had when starting the study, and only 10 percent (10%) of them managed to lose 10 percent (10%) or more of the body weigh they had when starting the study
Dr. Pi-Sunyer informed that the drug has a habit of decreasing gastric emptying, also known as “the emptying of the stomach” and that it sends signals to the brain, telling it to lower hunger as well as increase satiety.
The lead author did mention that while the drug definitely gives physicians more options that they can use to help obese or overweight patients lose weight, it is not without side effects. The most common ones include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, low blood sugar, diarrhea and constipation.
However, it is important to note that serious side effects (such as pancreas inflammation, lowered kidney function, increased heart rate, thoughts of suicide) only occurred in 6.2 percent (6.2%) of subjects taking Saxenda, and they also occurred in 5 percent (5%) of subjects taking the placebo. So they may very well be a consequence of dieting, rather than of the drug itself.
The study was founded by Novo Nordisk, the company that makes Saxenda.
Image Source: telegraph.co.uk