According to The Independent, obesity rates among children and adolescent populations have rocketed up ten-fold in the last four decades, across 200 countries. This alarming stat calls for a global intervention to tackle the issue as it risks forming a generation riddled with obesity related disease.
Although there are many contributing lifestyle and genetic factors that lead to weight gain, fundamentally it’s the result of an ongoing calorie surplus.
Two lifestyle factors that the majority people in the Western world have control over that influence body weight and body fat percentage are calorie expenditure and calorie intake.
With technology rapidly advancing over recent decades, the requirement for physical exertion within our society has certainly lessened as exercise shifts away from being a necessary day-to-day occurrence to becoming something we must consciously dedicate a chunk of our day towards.
The other issue – and something that the new drug, Semaglutide aims to tackle – is food intake.
Everybody’s relationship with food is different, however if it becomes unhealthy it can lead to food addiction: a dependency on food beyond fundamental survival that becomes essential for psychological wellbeing.
Such a dependency is driven by an elevated appetite, which – if high enough – can lead to people reaching for calorie rich foods that are typically high in sugar and provide the consumer with a sense of instant energy.
This instinctual response can quite quickly lead to weight gain.
Researchers at Leeds University recognized the influence appetite has on weight gain and have used this new drug to test it’s effects at reducing the appetites of of an overweight subject group.
The findings from the study (1) highlight this drugs potential long-term and practical day-to-day benefits, with an average result of 5kg weight loss over a 12 week period, most of which was body fat and not lean body mass.
Semaglutide was developed by a pharmaceutical company based in Denmark called Novo Nordisk.
Semaglutide works by mimicking the hormone GLP-1, which is created naturally within the body. GLP-1 – as you’d imagine – is a hormone responsible for reducing food cravings.
An aspect of the study’s protocol proved Semaglutide’s practical daily benefits for people who overeat.
The subject pool of 29 people were split in half, half of which were given Semaglutide, the other a placebo. Subjects given Semaglutide reduced their daily calorie intake by 24% more, on average, compared to those who took the placebo.
Reducing food intake by an additional 24% is significant and will assist people who overeat achieving a consistent calorie deficit that is necessary for weight loss.
1. Blundell et al. Effects of once-weekly semaglutide on appetite, energy intake, control of eating, food preference and body weight in subjects with obesity. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2017 Sep;19(9):1242-1251.