Back in March, the New England Journal of Medicine reported on a ground-breaking study in the area of weight loss. The study showed that a medication called semaglutide used in patients who were obese lost on average over 30 pounds. While medications for weight loss have been around for many years, this is by far the most successful medication and trial. Semaglutide is in a class of medications known as GLP-1 analogues, meaning the are similar to a natural hormone called GLP which helps control sugar and maintain weight. GLP-1 analogues have been used for over a decade in diabetic patients (and have also shown to prevent heart attacks and deaths in diabetics), but this study was in patients who were obese but did not have diabetes.
While diet and exercise is critically improtant for weight loss, diet and exercise alone are often not enough for overweight patients to achieve their weight loss goals. The reason for this is that through evolution, the body is designed to prevent weight loss. It achieves this through a serious of hormones and biologic agents that are produced when someone has decreased their caloric intake. It is possible that the GLP-1 analogoues and similar medication work by counter-acting some of these mechanisms.
In a medically supervised weight loss program (also known as medical weight management), doctors can work with patients not only to suggest appropriate diet and exercise programs, but can also prescribe medications like semaglutide and other weight loss medications to help patients acheive success.