According to researchers, people suffering from obesity could lose more than 20 percent of their body weight by a simple injection. The revelation follows a study of a drug that is commonly used to treat patients with diabetes.
Experts hailed the drug as a “game changer” for those struggling to lose weight and desperate to improve their general health. The drug is called tirzepatid and was the subject of a 72-week trial in the United States by international medical researchers.
Their findings have now been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The report outlines how weekly doses of the drug appear to result significant weight loss.
The study involved dividing 2,539 people classified as either obese or overweight into four subject groups. Three of the groups were injected with 5mg, 10mg or 15mg doses of tirzepatid weekly for the duration of the trial, while the fourth received a placebo.
Most of the participants were white and female, with an average body weight of 104.8 kg. None of them had diabetes but 94.5 percent of the participants were classified as clinically obese.
The UK currently has one of the worst obesity rates in the world but it is a growing problem in most western countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is responsible for causing 1.2 million deaths in Europe each year.
But researchers at Tirzapatid have found that recruiting the diabetic drug to help obese people, along with other interventions, has seen participants lose up to 20 percent of their body weight. Each of the test subjects received lifestyle advice and was required to eat low-calorie meals.
They were also asked to complete about 150 minutes of physical exercise or activity each week. By the end of the trial, almost 82 percent of the participants had successfully followed the regime.
Those who received the 5mg weekly dose of tirzepatid lost an average of 16.1kg (35.5lbs). People who received the 10mg dose shed an average of 22.2kg (48.9lbs), while participants given 15mg dropped an average weight of 23.6kg (52lbs).
In contrast, researchers said the placebo groups lost an average weight of just 2.4kg (5.3lbs) during the 72 weeks of the trial. They added that about 57 percent of people who received the highest dose lose 20 percent or more of body weight, compared with only 3 percent of those who received the placebo injection.
The study also found that in the group given the highest dose of tirzepatid, 91 percent of participants lost at least 5 percent of their body weight, compared to only 35 percent in the placebo group. Until now, diet and exercise have been the focus when it comes to helping people who are obese. However, results can vary in many cases and for some it can be difficult to maintain weight over time.
Dr. Ania Jastreboff, of Yale University who was the lead author of the research, said it showed that tirzepatid may be an essential new tool for treating obesity. “We should treat obesity the way we treat any chronic disease – through effective and safe approaches that target underlying diseases,” she said. “These findings suggest that tirzepatid may be doing just that.”
Earlier this year, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which regulates drugs prescribed in the UK, approved the use of semaglutide, a drug similar to tirzepatid, for certain groups of obese people. It also works by mimicking the hormones of the human body to make people feel full after eating. These hormones that help people eat less are often found at low levels in those classified as obese.