Obesity has become a major global problem, with rates rising by 10% in Canada and the United States, and nearly tripling on a global scale since 1975. According to the World Health Organization, over 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2016 – to be specific, 39% of adults were overweight and 13% were obese. Obesity has many causes, some of which are only just beginning to be discovered. One recent study published by the American Society for Microbiology, has found that gut fungi (which has changed in nature owing to a high-fat diet) can play a big role in the obesity epidemic. Other studies have shown an important link between long-term stress and obesity. Clearly, lifestyle factors make all the difference when it comes to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. However, equally interesting are new advances in medication for tackling obesity.
New Medication Targets Brain Appetite Control System
One new medication that is showing promise in recent trials, is semaglutide – a new drug being manufactured in Denmark to treat diabetes. Research undertaken at the University of Leeds has shown that people lost an average of 11 pounds over a 12-week period after receiving weekly doses of this medication. All in all, the medication reduced food intake by around a quarter, leading researchers to conclude that it could help people feel more in control of weight loss and help prevent the onset of serious diseases which are linked to obesity (such as heart diseases and Type 2 diabetes) – although most Americans are lucky to be covered against these chronic diseases, many people in the rest of the world receive neither diagnosis nor treatment, and heart disease is still the number one cause of death on a worldwide scale.
Mimicking the Action of a Naturally Occurring Hormone
Findings indicated that most of the weight loss came from a reduction in body fat. This is important, because muscle is vital for burning calories and boosting the metabolism. One of the most important effects of the medication was that it reduced cravings; people ate smaller meals and decreased their preference for fatty foods. According to John Blundell, lead author of the study, “What was striking was the potency of the drug’s action. We saw results in 12 weeks which may take as long as six months with other anti-obesity medication.” The drug reduced hunger, cravings and a desire to eat – each of which had been thought to originate in different parts of the brain. It is postulated that part of the medication’s success is the similarity of its chemical structure to a naturally occurring hormone that is believed to control the part of our brain responsible for feelings of hunger, cravings, and the rewarding aspects of food.
If you want to lose weight, lifestyle choices are key. Sleeping well, consuming a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress reduction will go a long way towards helping you achieve your aims. Meanwhile, medications such as semaglutide provide hope for those for whom losing weight seems like an uphill battle, or a yo-yo-like cycle that can be never-ending and demotivating.