Wegovy, a novel appetite suppressant, may soon be made available on the NHS in the UK. The injection is said to aid in weight management and the treatment of obesity. Despite promising results in the trial phase, classic bariatric surgery remains the most reliable option for sustained weight loss.
Recent reports indicate that 28% of adults in England are obese and a further 36% are overweight. To combat the rise of such issues, new non-invasive weight loss procedures are being developed with hopes of medical intervention enticing a larger amount of people.
Most overweight or obese people are between the ages of 45 and 74. Since 1993, the percentage of afflicted adults in England has increased from 52,9% to 64,3%, while the percentage of obese people has increased from 14.9% to 28%.
One of the newest outputs of such efforts is an experimental weight loss injection, now being considered by the UK to be made available on the NHS. Marketed under the trade name Wegovy, the semaglutide injection curbs the appetite of the patient, reducing overall feelings of hunger.
The trial period for the treatment showed promising results — in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise regimen, participants lost around 13kg on average. The study found that once-weekly subcutaneous semaglutide plus lifestyle intervention was associated with substantial, sustained, clinically relevant mean weight loss of 14,9% in adults with overweight or obesity, with 86% of participants achieving at least 5% weight loss.
However, Linas Venclauskas, MD, PhD, a bariatric surgeon at Nordbariatric Clinic — a leading international bariatric center in Kaunas, Lithuania — says that surgery remains the best option for sustained weight loss.
“Not many clinical trials have been carried out yet, so there is no clear consensus on semaglutide injections. There are some good results, but surgery remains the best treatment option today,” explained Venclauskas. “The patient needs a lot of endocrinological tests, if the BMI is low and surgery is feared, injections may help, but if the BMI is high, the desired result will not be achieved.”
Wegovy, in its trial phase, was also linked to several potential risks and side-effects. The most often reported occurrences were gastrointestinal issues, which generally include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, and constipation. In addition, serious adverse events were reported in 9.8% and 6.4% of semaglutide and placebo participants, respectively, including the incidence of serious gastrointestinal disorders and hepatobiliary disorders.
“Weight loss injections may serve patients who tend to regain weight after surgery best. In the later months of recovery, a patient must make adjustments to their lifestyle and form new habits in order to avoid relapses in weight,” noted Venclauskas.
“Using semaglutide in a supplementary fashion with guidance from a bariatric specialist may help such patients achieve desired results long-term,” he concluded.