A widely used diabetes drug can help you lose weight no matter your age

A recent Tel Aviv University study found that a common drug can help people lose weight effectively, regardless of age.

The obesity drug semaglutide (Ozempic in Spain) was originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes. However, its effects on weight loss led researchers to study its effect in people who were obese but not diabetic.

Weight loss is often accompanied by loss of lean body mass (muscle mass), which can negatively affect physical functioning and resting energy expenditure, i.e., basal metabolism.

In the study, investigators tested the tolerability and effect of semaglutide 2.4 mg on weight loss and age-based body composition. A group of adults without type 2 diabetes received a weekly injection of semaglutide 2.4 mg or placebo, and all had to follow a lifestyle intervention for 68 weeks.

The team found that despite following the same regimen, the change in body weight was greater with semaglutide than with placebo and was maintained across all age groups:

  • People younger than 40 years: mean weight loss of 15.2% in the semaglutide group vs. 2.3% on placebo
  • Persons aged 40 to 60 years: 14.6 kg with semaglutide vs. 2.5 kg with placebo
  • People over 60 years: 14.7 kg with semaglutide vs. 2.4 kg with placebo.

In terms of body fat percentage and maintenance of lean body mass, semaglutide has been shown to have a more pronounced effect in patients younger than 50 years of age.

The team also found that the safety of semaglutide was generally consistent across all age groups. Mild intestinal disturbances were the most frequent adverse effects. They state that treatment with semaglutide reduced the percentage of body fat mass and increased lean mass in all subjects, especially in those younger than 50 years.

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Effect of weekly continuous subcutaneous semaglutide vs placebo on maintenance of weight loss in overweight or obese adults

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